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State of Human Rights in 2018

State of Human Rights in 2018 Human Rights Commission of Pakistan

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan


Sources, where not quoted in the text, are HRCP surveys, fact-finding reports and communications from its correspondents and private citizens; official gazettes; economic and legal documents and other public releases and statements; reports in the national and regional press; and publications of international agencies such as UNDP, ILO, WHO, UNICEF, UNFPA, and the World Bank.

Considering the limitation of official reports, press accounts and sample surveys conducted by NGOs, the figures and assessments offered here may not always represent the full or exact picture. They should be taken as a reflection of the trend during the year.

Images have been taken from national and regional newspapers and other online sources.

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Editor: Maryam Hasan

Cover design: Rida Fazal

Format and layout: Rida Fazal







Key Issues


I Rule of Law

Laws and law-making


Administration of justice


Death penalty


Pakistan and international human rights mechanisms


II Enforcement of Law

Law and order


Jails and prisoners


Enforced disappearances


III Fundamental Freedoms

Freedom of movement


Freedom of thought, conscience and religion


Freedom of expression


Freedom of assembly


Freedom of association


IV Democratic Development

Political participation


V Rights of the Disadvantaged







The elderly


People living with disabilities


Refugees and IDPs


VI Social and Economic Rights





Housing, land grabbing and public amenities





HRCP Activities




Asian Development Bank


District and Sessions


Alternate Dispute




Deputy Superintendent of


Azad Jammu and Kashmir



Awami National Party


Exit Control List


Assistant Sub-Inspector [of Police]


Environment Impact Assessment


Additional Sessions Judge


Environment Protection


Anti-Terrorism Act



Anti-Terrorism Court


Expanded Programme for


Balochistan High Court



Basic Health Unit


Federally Administered


Capital Development Authority

Tribal Areas (now merged with KP)


Chief Election


Frontier Crimes


Commissioner Convention on the


Regulation FATA Disaster

Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women


Management Authority Federal Investigation Agency


Council of Common


International Federation


Interests Criminal Investigation


for Human Rights First Information Report



Higher Education


Council of Islamic




Human Rights


Chief Justice

Commission of Pakistan


Chief of Army Staff


International Covenant for


Computerised National Identity Card


Civil & Political Rights International Covenant on


Criminal Procedure Code

Economic, Social and


Committee on the Rights of the Child


Cultural Rights Internal Displacement


Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities


Management Centre Inspector General [of Police]


District Coordination Officer


International Monetary Fund


Department for International Development UK


International Non- governmental organisation


Deputy Inspector General


Inter-Services Intelligence

[of Police / Prisons]


Inter-Services Public


District Police Officer



International Union for


Conservation of Nature Unesco Institute for


Statistics Jamaat-e-Islami


Juvenile Justice Systems


Ordinance Justice Project Pakistan




(Fazlur Rehman Group) Lahore High Court


Lady Health Worker


Member of the National


Assembly Member of the Provincial


Assembly Muttahida (formerly


Mohajir) Qaumi Movement National Assembly


National Accountability


Bureau National Counter


Terrorism Authority National Action Plan


National Commission for


Human Rights National Commission on


the Status of Women National Environment


Quality Standards Non-governmental


organisation National Identity Card


National Industrial


Relations Commission National Security Council


Pakistan Atomic Energy


Commission Provincially Administered


Tribal Areas Pakistan Federal Union of


Journalists Peshawar High Court


Pakhtunkhawa Milli


Awami Party Pakistan Medical


Association Pakistan Muslim League


Nawaz. PML-Q is Pakistan Muslim League, Quaid-e-Azam. Pakistan Oppressed Nations Movement


Pakistan Penal Code


Pakistan People’s Party


Police Station


Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf


Rural Health Centre


Supreme Court


South Asian Association


for Regional Cooperation States and Frontier


Regions Salinity Control and


Reclamation Project Supreme Court Bar


Association Sindh High Court


Station House Officer


Sub-Inspector [of Police]


Sindh Industrial Trading


Estate Superintendent of Police


Senior Superintendent of


Police Tehreek-e-Labbaik


Pakistan Tehreek-e-Taliban


Pakistan Universal Declaration of


Human Rights United Nations Drug


Control Programme United Nations


Development Programme United Nations


Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation United Nations Population Fund

UNHCHR United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees


United Nations Children’s


Fund Water and Power


Development Authority Water and Sewerage


Authority World Bank


World Health


Organisation World Trade Organisation


Worldwide Fund for Nature


[Terms commonly used in discourse on rights and laws]


asnad: certificates awarded by educational institutions,

settlement; habitation; also population


especially religious schools. [singular sanad] literally, leader. Frequently used to refer to leaders of Muslim groups



“May peace be upon you.” Muslim greeting




the Muslim call to prayers



baitul mal:

originally the state treasury in an Islamic state. In

baitul zikr:

Pakistan it mainly disburses zakat house of prayers. Ahmadis have been using this

term for mosque since April 28,1984, when they were barred from using Islamic terms baradari brotherhood, often associated with parties and political alliances


benami: without name. Refers to a property transaction

forced labour

where identity of the purchaser is not revealed protection money


bheel: one of the ‘lowest’ and poorest of the Hindu castes

chaadar: a long loose cloak worn over other garments by Muslim women

chaadar and

literally, chador and four walls. The phrase

chaar diwari:

signifies security of citizens (including women’s)


and of their privacy. a rural settlement in the Punjab, usually designated

by just a number and a letter of the alphabet challan: the police’s prosecution brief or charge-sheet. There are two categories: the first is based on a preliminary (first information) report, and the second, which is more formalised, follows on from early investigations; also a traffic ticket Chaudhry: a common surname in the Punjab; in its original sense, it describes the head of a village’s foremost landed family cheera: from the word meaning ‘tearing up’. It is a

common method of third degree torture in which the victim’s legs are spread apart to the maximum and kept in that position. The pain generally makes the accused ‘confess’.

chehlum: a Shia procession taken out forty days after Ashura.

china cutting

term used for illegal occupation and carving up of


land into plots for sale a small village [plural: dehaat]

dera: extended residential site of an influential figure; also a farmhouse

diyat: the financial compensation paid to the victim or heirs of a victim in cases of murder, bodily harm, or property damage


Eid-ul-Fitr: Festive occasion which marks the end of the Muslim month of fasting (Ramazan)



religious ruling


Muslim jurisprudence

gaddi nashin:

custodian of a shrine

gherao: laying a kind of siege to someone important to






pressure him into acceding to your demands (literally, ‘to surround’) Islamic punishment (plural: hudood) Sindhi peasant, tenant or farmhand retiring room of an imam or any religious person; outhouse In Islam, the period of time during which a divorced woman or a widow cannot remarry, originally observed in order to ascertain if a child was conceived prior to divorce or widowhood (and as a mourning period in the latter instance) breaking of fast

a child was conceived prior to divorce or widowhood (and as a mourning period in the
a child was conceived prior to divorce or widowhood (and as a mourning period in the
a child was conceived prior to divorce or widowhood (and as a mourning period in the
a child was conceived prior to divorce or widowhood (and as a mourning period in the

ijtihad: the process in Islamic law of making a legal decision by independent interpretation of the legal sources, the Qur’an and the Sunnah


congregation; gathering


prayer leader


Shias’ place of congregation

jirga: a gathering of elders, especially in tribal societies,

which settles disputes, decides criminal cases, etc. the Muslim declaration of faith; shahadah


karo kari: karo and kari were originally terms for adulterer and adulteress, but this term is now used for multiple forms of perceived immoral behaviour. It describes a traditional custom whereby a woman and a man found in, or more often suspected of, an illicit relationship are killed by family members to restore family honour.

katchi abadi:

a settlement or shanty town where poor people


live in makeshift shacks a term often used to refer to an influential feudal


landowner in the area. Khan is also a common surname person who delivers religious sermons before


Friday prayers; also an orator


community service organisations, comprising


government nominees, required to check failures of public institutions and officials divorce obtained on wife’s initiative. The procedure


for this differs from talaq, the divorce pronounced by the husband. a court of law. The khuli kutchery is the audience


given by ministers or officials to resolve grievances of the public the Muslim prayer due at dusk


a religious school [plural: madaaris]

mahram: group of permitted escorts for a Muslim woman


when travelling a tribal chief. Other variants are Sardar and Khan


a unit of area that is one 160th of an acre




gathering; party

mehr: the money the groom pledges to the bride at the

time of the wedding as a token of his earnestness moharrir: police clerk who records complaints and crime reports


the Muslim month of mourning, especially for


Shias apostate

naib qasid:

office boy


unclean; something religiously regarded as impure

napaid bazo:

family’s decision to wed one off ahead of birth


mayor, also administrator

naib nazim:

deputy mayor


marriage; also marriage ceremony


a mullah who is authorised to solemnise marriages


marriage certificate


a Shia lament


a gathering of elders

patharidar: an influential landowner in Sindh who harbours criminals


advance payment against labour


spiritual guide who often acts as a faith healer


literally solid, generally refers to houses made of baked bricks




forceful seizure and occupation




premeditated murder


false imputation of immorality against a woman


a judge of an Islamic court


equal retribution; eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth

quo warranto: a writ (order) used to challenge another’s right to


either public or corporate office or to challenge the legality of a corporation’s charter the Muslim month of fasting




Sindhi term for swara

suo motu when a court takes cognisance of a case or controversy on its own initiative and commences proceedings swara: a child marriage custom in the Pashtun areas. It



is tied to blood feuds among the different tribes and clans where young girls are forcibly married to members of different clans in order to resolve the feuds education an administration division (also known as ‘tehsil’

of different clans in order to resolve the feuds education an administration division (also known as

tazia: replica of Imam Hussain’s mausoleum displayed


during Muharram processions persons learned in Islamic practices [singular:


aalim] Islamic land tax

vani: a cultural custom in parts of Pakistan, called swara

in the KP, where young girls are forcibly married as part of the punishment for a crime committed by her male relatives. Vani is a form of arranged child marriage, and the result of punishment decided by a jirga, a council of tribal elders a big landowner; jagirdar; powerful feudal lord


watta satta: the swap system of marital alliances in which a brother and sister of one family are married to the siblings of another.


zakat: a tithe Islam imposes on every Muslim as a fixed

proportion of his/her income and wealth, and meant as a contribution to help the poor and the

needy zaakir: religious preacher who mostly recounts events of Imam Husain’s sacrifice at Karbala

The tenth day of Muharram.




adultery; fornication. Rape is zina-bil-jabr


In a year of general elections, it was inevitable perhaps that the progress and observation of human rights issues might be suspended, if not forgotten altogether. The elections themselves were plagued by allegations of pre-poll manipulation and rigging of votes—never fully resolved—and some appalling outbreaks of violence.

The unprecedented level to which the fundamental right to freedom of expression was overtly violated, particularly in the run-up to the elections, came as a rude shock. Under the opaque shroud of ‘national security concerns’, the restrictions on media coverage were stepped up, journalists increasingly took to self-censorship to evade intimidation and threats, cable operators were prohibited from broadcasting certain networks, the distribution of a national newspaper was severely curtailed, and a media blackout was imposed on coverage of certain events.

The net was cast wide and even this publication came under scrutiny. HRCP had its own first-hand experience of the stern view taken by authorities on the reporting of the state of human rights in the country. After the launch of the report in April, the editor’s home was raided. She was held for over an hour, threatened with physical violence, questioned, and robbed for good measure—an abuse not only of freedom of expression and dignity of person, but also of what should have been the inviolable dignity of home.

While restrictions on freedom of expression continued to be highlighted throughout the year, the public conscience was unremittingly assailed by reports of enforced disappearances, extrajudicial killings, the abuse and murder of children, violence towards women, child labour, religious intolerance, the persecution of minorities, crimes committed in the name of ‘honour’—the list is long and seemingly endless.

The enthusiasm that greeted the introduction of legislation and numerous initiatives to aid the beleaguered transgender community masked some of the realities they continued to face. Proving once again that legislation and directives alone cannot bring about societal changes, reports persisted throughout the year of transgenders being attacked and killed.

The intolerance and antagonism towards minorities, particularly

religious minorities, showed no sign of receding, with blasphemy laws providing yet another opportunity to vent hatred. One bright prospect opened up when the Supreme Court acquitted Aasia Bibi, but the ensuing violence against the verdict could only be quelled when an ‘agreement’ was reached.

The year began with a horrifying crime against a six-year-old child and the relative speed with which the culprit was apprehended was in no small part due to the public outcry. The sentence handed down proved to be no deterrent—distressing reports of abuse and violence involving children continued to surface and the revulsion that the nation felt against the predators and the criminals was accompanied by the despairing realisation that this was only the tip of the iceberg.

To bring an end to the exploitation and ill treatment of children in industries and homes, and restore their right to a safe and protected childhood, calls for a monumental and dedicated effort. Legislation may exist or be forthcoming, but is there the will and the means to enforce it?

This was also a year in which the proliferation of suo motu cases raised eyebrows, perhaps more so for the questionable choice of some issues. Nonetheless, it spoke volumes about the prevailing law and order situation that many deserving cases might never have been heard had they not been taken note of by the Supreme Court.

While the interventions of the Supreme Court attracted much attention, the long-awaited reform of the criminal justice system remained on the back burner. And the steady accumulation and growth of the backlog of cases went unchecked in all the courts of the country. The frustration and suffering of litigants was exacerbated by delays, and the judicial process was further marred by the simmering conflict between lawyers and the judiciary.

Particularly notable during the year were the prolific and widely reported activities of the National Accountability Bureau, whose modus operandi was viewed with a mix of approbation and dismay. No one, it seemed, was immune from their endeavours to root out corruption. The axe fell on former prime ministers, politicians, media personalities, CEOs, and university officials alike.

The festering sores of enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings remained a blight on the nation’s image. Until and unless victims and families are given full and unimpeded recourse to due process, and impunity is denied to the perpetrators, these extreme violations of the rights of citizens will never be eradicated.

Never was there a time more in need of the fearless, forthright, and uncompromising defender of the rule of law. The sudden and tragic loss of Asma Jahangir in February 2018 left the country bereft of a

bold voice prepared to speak out on behalf of the underprivileged, the unrepresented, and the vulnerable.

In the general elections, the country voted for change in the hope of a brighter, better tomorrow. Time will tell if one is indeed on the horizon.

Mehdi Hasan


Key Issues

Laws and law-making

The federal parliament made a total of 39 laws in 2018, a slight increase from 2017 when 34 laws came into effect.

The Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) were merged with the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on 31 May 2018.

The Transgender Persons (Protection and Rights) Act 2018 was passed, covering a range of provisions, and significantly allowing a transgender person to be recognised as per his or her self-perceived gender identity.

The Juvenile Justice System Act 2018 replaced the Ordinance promulgated in 2000.

Sindh was once again just ahead with the highest legislative output, closely followed by the Punjab. Two significant Act passed by the Sindh government were The Sindh Maternity Benefits Act 2018, and The Sindh Home-Based Workers Act 2018.

Administration of justice

By year end, there were close to 1.9 million cases pending in over 250 lower, special, and superior courts.

The National Accountability Bureau filed 440 corruption references, apprehended 503 accused persons, received 44,315 complaints, and conducted 1,713 complaint verifications during the year.

While suo motu interventions by the Supreme Court proliferated, the long-awaited reform of the criminal justice system was put on the back burner.

At the end of the year 4,688 prisoners were on death row. At least 500 have been executed since 2014, fourteen of them in 2018.

The landmark judgment on the acquittal of Aasia Bibi by the Supreme Court was a welcome sign that, even in a flawed judicial system, the rule of law was still capable of protecting an innocent victim.

Pakistan and international human rights mechanisms

Pakistan has affirmed in its election pledge to the Human Rights

Council that it is ‘firmly resolved to uphold, promote and safeguard universal human rights and fundamental freedoms for all.’

HRCP expressed concern that Pakistan had chosen to only ‘note’ key human rights principles including, among others, the reporting of investigation and prosecution of security forces that commit human rights violations; amending discriminatory laws against marginalised groups, taking effective measures to prevent the abuse of blasphemy legislation, and the use of violence against religious minorities.

Requests for country visits from UN Special Rapporteurs on extrajudicial executions; the situation of human rights defenders; the promotion and protection of human rights while countering terrorism; freedom of religion or belief; and torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, remain pending.

Pakistan has ratified the eight ILO fundamental conventions but never fully applied them.

Law and order

As in previous years, there has been a steady decline in conflict- related deaths, although the 2018 General Election saw a rise in violent deaths for the period between June and July.

During the year, numerous reports emerged of police blackmail and extortion, torture and harassment during raids, custodial deaths, refusal to register FIRs, and corruption.

HRCP monitoring data showed 845 incidences of sexual violence against women, and 316 crimes in the name of ‘honour’ perpetrated against both men and women. These are minimum figures.

Child sex abuse incidents are on the rise. One report showed an increase of 32 percent in the first six months of 2018 compared to the same period the previous year, a 47 percent increase in cases involving boys, and a 75 percent rise in sexual violence against children in the age group of 0-5 years.

Despite legislation, violence against the transgender community continued during the year.

Cybercrime and online harassment across Pakistan have seen an exponential rise in cases.

Jails and prisoners

Overcrowding continues to be a major challenge with jails across the country holding up to 57 percent more inmates than their capacity.

In an NCHR report on Balochistan prisons, the need to adopt a

human rights approach in the administration of prisons was said to be of utmost importance.

Another NCHR report also observed that conditions for mentally ill inmates in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa prisons were particularly poor.

The Supreme Court was told in May that the government had sent 1,330 persons to internment centres while 253 others had been released.

According to the Interior Ministry, the official number of Pakistanis in foreign prisons was almost 12,000.

Freedom of movement

The excessive and arbitrary use of the Exit Control List (ECL) continued to feature prominently in the news.

Official restrictions on movement were imposed on people attending political and protest rallies.

Protests, sit-ins, and traffic snarl-ups inhibited the movement of citizens across the country.

The ground-breaking for the visa-free Kartarpur Corridor connecting Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan to Dera Baba Nanak in Indian Punjab was performed on 28 November.

Freedom of thought, conscience and religion

There was no noticeable abatement in violence against religious minorities, as attacks on people and property continued to be reported.

In a landmark judgment, the Supreme Court acquitted Aasia Bibi of blasphemy charges in October. The subsequent nationwide unrest over the decision forced the government to agree to a review of the ruling.

The Islamabad High Court ruled that all citizens should be identified by their faith and applicants for government and semi-government jobs should declare their faith before being considered eligible.

The government withdrew the nomination of Atif Mian from the Economic Advisory Council (EAC) following a backlash over his Ahmadiyya faith.

The Punjab government passed a landmark Bill ‘The Punjab Sikh Anand Karaj Marriage Act 2018’ providing for the solemnisation and registration of Sikh marriages.

Freedom of expression

Curbs on freedom of opinion and expression escalated to

unprecedented levels during the period of the elections.

Media coverage was severely inhibited and journalists intimidated into self-censorship, most specifically in reporting on abuses by government security and intelligence agencies as well as militants.

The government’s announced intention of forming a ‘Pakistan Media Regulatory Authority’ was greeted with concern by the media as another means of restricting the freedom of the press.

Pakistan’s internet freedom ranking declined in 2018, attributed to a problematic cybercrime law, internet shutdowns, and cyber-attacks against political dissenters, justified on the grounds of national security.

A Freedom Network report documented more than 150 violations, including verbal threats, killings, harassment, arrests, abductions, illegal confinements, and physical assaults, against journalists and media groups across the country between May 2017 and April 2018.

Freedom of assembly

Pre-emptive detention of activists was frequently employed to restrict or disrupt rallies and protests, particularly in the months preceding the elections.

Roads leading to the venues of rallies were blocked and media coverage blacked out.

The government was said to be preparing a comprehensive strategy to prevent violent protests on the road and hate speech on sensitive religious issues and to ensure that people’s lives and properties were protected.

Police frequently used force to hamper or break up peaceful protests, including visually impaired demonstrators protesting about the lack of jobs and salaries.

Freedom of association

Barriers to setting up unions, categories of workers prohibited from joining unions, limitations on, and methods used to break up, certain types of strikes, as well as the possibility of dismissal are factors that inhibit the growth of trade unions.

The restrictions and banning of INGOs continued in 2018 with 18 ordered to wind up and leave the country by 30 November.

The restoration of student unions remained pending and unresolved.

Workers and supporters of social movements and some with political affiliations were subjected to intimidation or detention on charges of sedition and terrorism.

Political participation

The elections were marred by allegations of pre-poll manipulation and vote rigging, an issue that was never resolved, and the pre-poll environment clearly did not offer a level playing field to all parties.

Doubts were raised about the fairness of the election process when security forces assumed control of the polling stations after the close of polling, and told all polling agents to leave their posts and come back an hour later.

Pre-election rallies and gatherings, as well as polling stations, were once again targeted by bomb attacks although the incidences were fewer than in the 2013 elections.

Attempts by the media to draw attention to some banned (as terrorist) entries in the elections were in vain.

The rise of the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM), and the government’s response, was a significant political development.


Pakistan was named once again the second worst country in terms of gender equality in the world by the Global Gender Gap Index


Despite the legislation enacted for women’s rights in recent years, violence against women and unlawful practices persist and continue to escalate.

Seventy-five percent of women and girls are involved in the agriculture sector and 60 percent of their work is being utilised as unpaid.

There were more women candidates for general seats in the 2018 general elections than in any past election. For the first time, transgender candidates contested the elections. The first Sheedi woman was elected to the Sindh Assembly, and the first Hindu Dalit woman was elected to the Senate.

The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2018 was passed giving them the right ‘to be recognised as per his or her self- perceived gender identity’, and making discrimination against them in numerous areas unlawful.


There has been a sharp increase in child sexual abuse, involving both boys and girls, and reports of abuse appear with shocking regularity.

Despite legislation on the employment of minors, this practice

persists in industries and homes and the cases of abuse of child domestic workers continue to surface.

Only four percent of children in Pakistan receive a ‘minimally acceptable diet’ according to a UN report.

In the Thar region of Sindh, 638 children died of malnutrition in the period 1 January to 31 December 2018.

The National Commission on the Rights of the Child (NCRC) Act was passed in 2017, and the Commission has yet to be constituted.


The Sindh government produced a record number of labour-related legislation, including the first-ever law in Pakistan to protect the rights of home-based workers (The Sindh Home-Based Workers Act


In general, implementation of international ILO and UN conventions and covenants relating to labour standards and human rights is an ongoing problem in Pakistan.

Scores of mine workers lost their lives in deadly incidents in Balochistan and other provinces with no evidence of progress in the implementation of safety and health standards.

Despite legislation, Pakistan ranked 8th on the Global Slavery Index 2018, with an estimated three million living in modern slavery/ bonded labour.

An estimated 12 million children are involved in child labour in the country.

The elderly

The current figure of over 11 million senior citizens in Pakistan is set to rise to over 43 million by 2050 according to the UNFPA.

The implementation of existing Acts for the rights of senior citizens, and the formulation of others, is painfully slow.

There is a dearth of housing and health facilities for those unable to live with their families.

The informal sector accounts for 70% of the economy, yet it remains out of the ambit of The Employees Old Age Benefits Act 1976.

People living with disabilities

Statistics on the number of persons with disabilities (PWDs) in the country vary in the absence of verifiable survey data, but the prevalence of disability has been estimated at 15 percent by WHO.

Laws fully based on the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons

with Disabilities which Pakistan ratified in 2011 have yet to fully manifest themselves and there is a lot of ground to make up.

The Sindh Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities Act 2018, however, emphasises a rights-based approach modelled on the core principles of the CRPD.

Schooling, training, and employment of children and people living with disabilities is a much-neglected area.

Stigma and superstition attached to disability in Pakistan prevents the visibility, inclusion, and participation of PWDs in society.

Refugees and IDPs

The number of Afghan nationals registered in Pakistan is over 2.8 million, of which 1.6 million hold a Proof of Registration Card (PoR) card, according to NADRA. There are at least one million undocumented Afghan nationals residing in the country.

A total of 13,584 refugees were voluntarily repatriated from Pakistan to Afghanistan in 2018, a significant decline as compared to 57,411 in 2017.

FDMA estimates that around 16,136 IDP families have yet to return. Independent analysts, HRCP monitors on the ground, and organisations working with IDPs say the numbers of IDPs who were forced to leave their homes in FATA, and who are currently still displaced, are much higher.

The government made an announcement about the possible granting of citizenship to around 1.5 million Afghans born in Pakistan, but this was later clarified as a move to ‘initiate a debate’ on the subject.

The perception that Afghan refugees were all involved in criminal or terrorist activities continued to persist and, in some cases, was encouraged as evidenced by reports of continued harassment and aggression.


The number of out-of-school children was reported to have risen from 22.63 to 22.84 million. Another report spoke of a promising trend as the children between the ages of six and 16 enrolled in schools had risen from 81 percent in 2016 to 83 percent in 2018.

GEM 2019 showed that just about half of the pupils attain minimum proficiency in reading and mathematics by the end of the primary level, but the ASER report 2018 registered an improvement in learning levels.

The issue of tuition fee hikes at elite schools was taken up by the

Supreme Court.

The funding for the Higher Education Commission was slashed by around Rs5 billion in a mid-term budget released in October.

Militants torched 12 schools, mostly for girls, in Gilgit-Baltistan, the Khyber tribal district, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and Balochistan.

Cases of corporal punishment continued to be reported throughout the year from the Punjab, KP, and other provinces.


The country’s spending on the health sector is still less than one percent of its GDP whereas WHO recommends it should be around 6 percent.

The unsatisfactory quality and coverage of public health services means a high dependence on the private sector which is too costly for many. As a result, people are driven to consult unqualified medical practitioners and quacks, often with dire consequences.

The country is becoming increasingly depressed, according to the Pakistan Association for Mental Health. There is no evidence that Pakistan has developed a coordinated national strategy to achieve the objectives of WHO’s comprehensive mental health action plan


The control of communicable diseases remains a challenge, while there is a rising trend of non-communicable diseases—heart disease, stroke, diabetes, hypertension, and various types of cancers.


There were some notable efforts to stop land grabbing and illegal encroachment, but those practices as well as illegal occupation and china cutting continued especially in the major cities.

With a deficit of roughly seven to 10 million houses in the country, the government’s pledge to build five million affordable houses throughout Pakistan might be a major challenge particularly after the announcement that applicants would have to bear 20 percent of the total cost of their home.

The authorities’ operations to evict ‘illegal’ occupants from residential areas and to demolish illegal structures met with some strong resistance.

The frequent reports of roof and wall collapses causing numerous fatalities expose the substandard quality of construction in homes and buildings.


Air and water pollution, lack of sanitation, and exposure to heavy metals are responsible for approximately 340,000 deaths annually in Pakistan, according to Yale’s 2018 Environmental Performance Index.

Pakistan is among the top ten countries most affected by climate change, with wide-ranging impacts on the population and economy due to extreme weather events over the last two decades.

Balochistan and Sindh, and other parts of the country, were reported to be experiencing drought-like conditions, with the Thar region particularly hard hit.

A World Bank report recommended urgent investments in faecal waste management systems as well as in the provision of safe drinking water to prevent transmission of disease.

Pakistan is forging ahead with the building of coal-fired plants— Thar coal will fuel nine of the 17 proposed CPEC power plants— despite the global trend towards replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy.

The Punjab government was reported to be conducting a forensic audit of the Quaid-e-Azam Solar Power Project in Bahawalpur amid concerns over the cost of the project and the electricity being produced there.


Rule of Law

I Rule of Law

Rule of Law

Laws and Law-making

Wherein shall be guaranteed fundamental rights, including equality of status, of opportunity and before law, social, economic and political justice, and freedom of thought, expression, belief, faith, worship and association, subject to law and public morality…….So that the people of Pakistan may prosper and attain their rightful and honoured place amongst the nations of the World and make their full contribution towards international peace and progress and happiness of humanity.

Constitution of Pakistan Preamble

Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights Preamble

In 2018, a total of 107 Acts were passed by the Parliament and provincial assemblies. Thirty-nine of these Acts were federally passed—applicable to the whole nation—while 68 Acts were passed by the four Provincial Assemblies. This represented an overall increase from the previous year.

This report summarises the 2018 Acts categorised according to their jurisdictions. Within provincial jurisdiction, Sindh passed the highest number of Acts in 2018; many of them, however, were amendments to existing statutes. The Punjab, however, was just two Acts short of the same number as Sindh.

Most notably, this year saw the merger of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) with the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on 31 May 2018, thereby ending the reign of the Frontier Crimes Regulations (FCR). The FCR was a special set of laws, enacted in 1901 by the British Empire to confront Pashtun insurgents. Under the FCR, a whole tribe would be held responsible for the crime of one individual.

Also, this year an Act for the protection and welfare of Pakistan’s transgender community was passed. There was a pressing need for this recognition as the prominent community of transgenders in Pakistan has been cornered into forgoing their fundamental rights as a result of discrimination. Pakistan now recognises the right of transgenders to

identify themselves as a self-perceived gender on all national identity documents.

An Act was also passed to establish and regulate a systematic juvenile

justice system, and to define and govern the arrest and detention of juveniles. It provides for the recognition of the misconduct that occurs

in juvenile detention, due to the absence of official guidelines governing

the juvenile justice system.


A total of 39 Federal Acts were passed in 2018, a slight increase from


The Apprenticeship Act, 2018 aims at making provisions for promoting, developing, and regulating systematic apprenticeship programmes.

The National Commission on the Status of Women (Amendment) Act, 2018 amended the National Commission on the Status of Women Act 2012. Section 4 of the 2012 Act was amended, and a new sub-section (6) was inserted which stipulated that within 30 days of the occurrence of a vacancy, a new chairperson shall be appointed.

The Law and Justice Commission of Pakistan (Amendment) Act, 2018 amends the Law and Justice Commission of Pakistan Ordinance


The Anti Terrorism (Amendment) Act, 2018 amends the Anti- Terrorism Act, 1997.

The Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto Medical University, Islamabad (Amendment) Act, 2018 amends the Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto Medical University Islamabad Act 2013.

The Marine Insurance Act, 2018 regulates the business of marine insurance.

The National University of Technology Act, 2018 was for the setting up of a National University of Technology in Islamabad to meet the unprecedented increase in demand for technical and skilled manpower in all sectors of the economy, and to encourage growth in technology and research.

The National Assembly Secretariat Employees Act, 2018 regulates the recruitment and conditions of service of persons appointed in the National Assembly.

The National Skills University Islamabad Act, 2018 was introduced to upgrade the status of the National Institute of Science and Technical Education Islamabad into a National Skills University. The Act also provides for the establishment and functions of various

departments of the University.

The Pakistan Bait ul Mal Act (Amendment), 2018 amends the Pakistan Bait-ul-Mal Act, 1991. Amendments include provision for rehabilitation centres to be made for the rehabilitation of disabled children.

The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Amendment) Act, 2018 amends the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1890.

The Corporate Rehabilitation Act, 2018 provides for the rehabilitation and reorganisation of distressed corporate entities and their businesses to encourage economic growth and development.

The Supreme Court of Pakistan and High Court (Extension of Jurisdiction to Federally Administered Tribal Areas) Act, 2018 extends the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court of Pakistan and the Peshawar High Court to the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).

COMSATS University Islamabad Act, 2018 provides for the upgradation of the status of Comsats Institute of Information Technology Islamabad to COMSATS University.

The Regulation of Generation, Transmission and Distribution of Electric Power (Amendment) Act, 2018 amends the Regulation of Generation, Transmission, and Distribution of Electric Power Act


The Criminal Laws (Amendment) Act, 2018 amends the Pakistan Penal Code 1860 and the Code of Criminal Procedure 1898.

The Transgender Persons (Protection and Rights) Act, 2018 is for the protection and provision of relief and rehabilitation of the rights of transgender persons. It allows a transgender person to be recognised as per his or her self-perceived gender identity. The Act prohibits harassment, as well as discrimination in the context of a wide range of factors including education, health service, and opportunity to hold public/private offices. It also provides for their inheritance, in accordance with whatever gender the person identifies with. The government under Article 25A of the Constitution shall take steps to provide free and compulsory education to transgenders.

The Islamabad Healthcare Regulation Act, 2018 was for the establishment of the Islamabad Healthcare Regulatory Authority, to provide quality healthcare services and implement quality standards in the healthcare sector for the residents of Islamabad.

The Institute of Science and Technology Bahawalpur Act, 2018 provides for the establishment of the Institute of Science and Technology Bahawalpur as a degree awarding institute.

The Prevention of Smuggling of Migrants Act, 2018 was introduced to prevent the smuggling of migrants by land/sea and air. It also aims to protect smuggled migrants and promotes national and international cooperation in this regard. Any person who intentionally engages or attempts to engage in the smuggling of migrants will be imprisoned.

The Health Services Academy (Restructuring) Act, 2018 provides for the restructuring of the Health Services Academy as a degree awarding institute. The Act then stipulates information regarding the composition, functions, and setup of the institute.

The Juvenile Justice System Act, 2018 provides for a criminal justice system for juveniles. A juvenile is defined as a child who has not attained the age of eighteen years and who may be dealt with for an offence in a manner different from an adult. The Act also establishes a juvenile court which shall decide the matter within six months after the court has taken cognisance of the offence. At the time of the commission of the offence the juvenile shall not be awarded punishment of death, they shall not be handcuffed, nor should they be given any corporal punishment while in custody. Special provisions also cater to female juveniles.

The Islamabad Capital Territory Child Protection Act, 2018 was introduced to provide utmost care and protection to the children residing in Islamabad. It lists the factors that determine what constitutes the best interests of a child. The Act creates a Child Protection Advisory Board, to advise the Government on matters regarding implementation of child rights. The Act also establishes Child Protection Institutions. Section 17 provides for the procedure for court application. Special provision is made for a girl child, who cannot be placed under the care of a male caregiver or child protection officer. Unless the court permits otherwise, the identity and report of a child being dealt under this Act must be kept confidential.

The Finance Act, 2018 aims to give effect to the financial proposals presented by the Federal Government for the year beginning on the first day of July 2018, and to amend certain laws.

The National Civic Education Commission Act, 2018 strives to promote civic education by creating awareness about fundamental rights and obligations of citizens. The objective of the legislation is to educate young people about the Constitution, civic sense, and respect for laws of the country.

The Federal Employees Benevolent Fund and Group Insurance (Amendment) Act, 2018 amended the Federal Employees Benevolent Fund and Group Insurance Act 1969. It states that if an employee

dies in a security related incident in the course of employment, his/ her spouse shall then be entitled to receive a monthly benevolent fund for life, and the Act discusses details of this particular matter at length.

The Women in Distress and Detention Fund (Amendment) Act, 2018 amended the Women in Distress and Detention Fund Act 1996.

The Establishment of the Federal Bank for Cooperatives and Regulation of Cooperative Banking (Repeal) Act, 2018 was repealed as the FBC had been dissolved in 2014 after completion of all formalities and liquidation process.

The House Building Finance Corporation (Repeal) Act, 2018 repealed The House Building Finance Corporation (Repeal) Act 1952 on the basis that it had lost its effectiveness and had become redundant.

The Sir Syed-CASE (Centre for Advanced Studies in Engineering) Institute of Technology, Islamabad, Act, 2018 provides for the establishment of this Centre and for all matters regarding its setup and arrangement.

The Institute for Art and Culture Act, 2018 provides for the establishment of this institute and deals with the composition and functions of the institute and all matters relating to it.

The Gas Infrastructure Development Cess (Amendment) Act, 2018 was introduced to amend the Gas Infrastructure Development Cess Act 2015.

The National Disaster Management (Amendment) Act, 2017 makes the Act more effective and gender responsive with appropriate financial allocations and state of the art financial institutional disaster management structure at all administrative levels.

The Prevention of Trafficking in Persons Act, 2018 aims to prevent trafficking, in particular of women and children. A person who, through any means, compels another person to perform labour/ commercial sexual acts, will be liable for the offence of trafficking and shall be subjected to punishment which includes imprisonment for 10 years, or a fine extending to one million rupees, or both. Offences under this Act are cognisable and non-bailable. The Prevention and Control of Human Trafficking Ordinance 2002 was repealed.

The President’s Salary, Allowances and Privileges (Amendment) Act, 2018 amends the President’s Salary, Allowances and Privileges Act 1975. It also aims at regulating the monthly salary of a president in accordance with determining factors for an increase.

The Legal Practitioners and Bar Councils (Amendment) Act, 2018

is aimed at amending The Legal Practitioners and Bar Councils Act 1973. The following amendments were made:


Amendment of Section 2 in Act XXXV of 1973


Amendment of Section 4 in Act XXXV of 1973


Amendment of Section 5A in Act XXXV of 1973


Amendment of Section 7 in Act XXXV of 1973


Amendment of Section 11A in Act XXXV of 1973


Amendment of Section 13 In Act XXXV of 1973.

The Constitution (Twenty-Fifth Amendment) Act, 2018 approved the merger of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) with the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. This Amendment also sought to increase the number of seats in the Provincial and Federal Assemblies. The allocation of seats was amended in 2018 as follows:


General Seats

Women’s Seats

Total Seats






































Federal Capital














The Finance Supplementary (Amendment) Act, 2018 amended laws regarding taxes and duties. Amendments were also made in the following acts:


Amendment of Customs Act (IV of 1969)


Amendment of Sales Tax Act 1990


Amendment of Income Tax Ordinance, 2001 (XLIX of 2001)


Amendment of the Federal Excise Act 2005.

West Pakistan Juvenile Smoking (Repeal) Act, 2018 repealed The West Pakistan Juvenile Smoking Ordinance 1959, to the extent of Islamabad Capital territory.

Provincial Acts


The following is a summary of the 23 Acts passed by the Punjab Provincial Assembly in, 2018. The Punjab has remained fairly active in legislative matters, maintaining its stand as one of the larger provinces of Pakistan.

The Bahawalpur Development Authority (Repeal) Act, 2018 repealed the BDA 1991 Act so that Bahawalpur Development Authority may be constituted under the provisions of Development of Cities Act 1976. Proceedings by the repealed Act are to remain active unless explicitly repealed.

The Cholistan University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences Bahawalpur Act, 2018 aims towards promoting and stimulating animal health services, making provisions for advanced teaching.

The Punjab Bonded Labour System (Abolition) (Amendment) Act, 2018 amends the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1992 (III of 1992) for the purpose, among others, of making more effective provisions to deal with the menace of exploitation of the persons subjected to any form of bonded or forced labour. The scope of the Act has been expanded to include forced labour as well.

The Explosive Substances (Punjab Amendment) Act, 2018 inserted an amendment in Section 7 of the Explosive Substances Act 1908 (VI) where it said that the trial of any person for an offence under this Act could not proceed without the consent of the provincial government. To prevent delays in proceedings, the Amendment Act stipulates that consent to a trial will be deemed to have been given if a response is not received from the provincial government within 60 days.

The Code of Civil Procedure (Punjab Amendment) Act, 2018 updates certain provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure 1908.

The Limitation (Punjab Amendment) Act, 2018 amends the Limitation Act 1908 and provides a limitation of 90 days for filing a revision petition under Section 115 of CCP 1908.

The Punjab Agricultural Marketing Regulatory Authority Act, 2018 facilitates and regulates growth of agricultural produce and assists development of agricultural commerce.

The Punjab Charities Act, 2018 aims towards establishing effective provisions for registration, administration and regulation of charities.

The Punjab Compulsory Teaching of the Holy Quran Act, 2018 aims towards making the teaching of the Holy Quran compulsory for all educational institutions in the Punjab province.

The Punjab Criminal Prosecution Service Inspectorate Act, 2018 introduces an effective system of monitoring and inspection of the Punjab Criminal Prosecution Service.

The Punjab Hepatitis Act, 2018 provides for the surveillance, diagnosis and treatment of hepatitis along with measures for its prevention and control.

The Punjab Legal Aid Act, 2018 establishes legal aid agencies to provide legal aid to indigent persons.

The Punjab Regularisation of Service Act, 2018 aims in the public interests to regularise the appointment of certain employees presently serving on contract.

The Punjab Sikh Anand Karaj Marriage Act, 2018 provides for the solemnisation and registration of Sikh marriages, commonly known as Anand Karaj.

The Punjab Tianjin University of Technology Lahore Act, 2018 establishes the Punjab Tianjin University of Technology Lahore. It lays down the framework for its composition and management.

The Punjab University of Technology Rasul Act, 2018 establishes the University of Technology Rasul. It stipulates as to how the University is to be managed and provides details regarding the functions that have to be carried out by the departments.

The Punjab Witness Protection Act, 2018 aims at protecting witnesses and other people connected to certain criminal proceedings. It establishes a Witness Protection Board which is obliged to frame policy guidelines for the purposes of this Act. Any victim, witness, or person connected to criminal proceedings may apply for protection under the Act. Once the application has been made the Government, Counter Terrorism Department, Public Prosecutor, and Court will proceed to determine whether or not the person is at risk.

The Punjab Education Initiatives Management Authority, 2018 establishes the Punjab Education Initiative Management Authority and lists its functions and related matters.

The Punjab Safe Medical Supplies Authority Act, 2018 establishes an authority for the procurement of drugs and medical equipment,

and for providing them to public health facilities in Pakistan.

The Punjab Zakat and Ushr Act, 2018 makes provisions for the assessment, collection, and disbursement of Zakat and Ushr in the province of Punjab.

The University of Narowal Act, 2018 establishes the Narowal University and lists all matters regarding its composition and functions.

The University of Sialkot Act, 2018 establishes the Sialkot University and lists all matters regarding its management.

The Punjab Finance Act, 2018 aims to levy, alter and rationalise certain taxes and duties in the province of Punjab and to deal with ancillary matters.


The following is a summary of Acts passed by the Provincial Assembly of Balochistan in, 2018. Despite being the largest province in the country, Balochistan passed only six statutes in, 2018, out of which four were Amendments. There appears to be a lack of legislative activity in Balochistan, especially in human rights awareness.

The Balochistan Juvenile Smoking (Balochistan Repeal) Act 5 of, 2018 repealed the Balochistan Juvenile Smoking Ordinance 1959 (West Pakistan Ordinance no. XII of 1959).

The Balochistan Prohibition of Smoking in Cinema Houses (Balochistan Repeal) Act No 4 of, 2018 has repealed the Balochistan Prohibition of Smoking in Cinema Houses Ordinance 1960 (West Pakistan Ordinance no IV of 1960).

The Balochistan Finance Act 2 of 2018 takes effect from the first day of July and extends to the whole of Balochistan except the tribal areas. It defines the rate of tax payable by the following:

1. Contractors/Suppliers

2. Medical Practitioners

3. People running private hospitals/diagnostic centres

4. Hotels.

The Balochistan Public Service Commission (Amendment) Act No VI of 2018 amends the Balochistan Public Service Commission Act II of 1989 in order to bring conformity with Article 242 of the Constitution. A new sub-section (3) is substituted in the 1989 Act which stipulates that the Governor has 15 days to require the Chief Minister to reconsider advice and has 10 days to act in accordance

with it. It also formulates the consequences that will follow if the procedure laid down in section 3A is not followed.

The Balochistan Protection of Communal Property of Minorities Act XIV of 2018 provides for the protection of the property of minorities and further states the punishment that will follow if the sections of the act are violated. It also lays down the procedure and punishment that will come into effect if an encroacher has occupied the property.

The Balochistan Civil Servants (Amendment) Act XV of 2018 was passed to further amend the Balochistan Civil Servants Act 1974. Amendments were made in Section 22, sub-section (2).

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

The following is a summarisation of the 14 Acts passed by the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Provincial Assembly in 2018. The Act regarding marriage functions and protection against harassment of women reflects on the changing patterns of Pakistan regarding women’s position in society. However, the passing of Acts does not automatically lead to a change in societal trends.

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Finance (Amendment) Act, 2018 aims to further amend the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Finance Act 2013, to levy, continue and revise certain taxes in the Province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Child Protection and Welfare (Amendment) Act, 2018 was passed to further amend the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Child Protection and Welfare Act 2010 in Section 2, 3, 4, 5, 9, 11, 13, 14 and 21.

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Medical Teaching Institutions Reforms (Amendment) Act, 2018 was passed to further amend the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Medical Teaching Institutions Reforms Act 2015. The insertion of a new Section 4A was made to establish a Policy Board for these institutions.

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Employees of the Elementary and Secondary Education Department (Appointment and Regularisation of Services) (Amendment) Act, 2018 was passed for the administrative amendments that were required in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Employees of the Elementary and Secondary Education Department (Appointment and Regularisation of Services) Act 2017.

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Employees of Transport Department (Regularisation of Services) (Amendment) Act, 2018 was passed to amend the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Employees of Transport

Department (Regularisation of Services) Act 2017, substituting Section 5 within the Act.

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Provincial Buildings (Management, Control and Allotment) Act, 2018 provides for the management control, allotment and cancellation of allotment of provincial buildings to government departments/offices and public office holders in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Local Government (Amendment) Act, 2018 amends the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Local Government Act

2013. It stipulates as to how the accounts and pre-audits in the local

government have to be maintained. It also lays down the procedure

that will follow if the office of Nazim/District Council/Tehsil Council/ Village/Neighbourhood council is vacant.

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Local Government (Amendment) Bill,


has amended the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Local Government Act


It also stipulates that the land or any building in University

Town Peshawar can be used for commercial activities.

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Establishment of Information Technology Board (Amendment) Act, 2018 has amended the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Establishment of Information Technology Board Act 2011. It also provides for the establishment of a Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Information Technology Board in order to regulate the information and technology enabled services and education for public and private sectors of the province.

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Universities (Amendment) Act No XI of

2018 amended the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Universities Act 2012 and

the following new entries were added to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Universities Act 2012:


The University of Lakki Marwat


The University of Agriculture, Dera Ismael Khan


The University of Engineering and Technology Mardan.

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Marriage Functions (Prohibition of Ostentatious Displays and Wasteful Expenses) Bill, 2018 aims at regularising marriage functions by placing restrictions on wasteful expenses. It also restricts the following:


Function timings


Bridal gifts


Ostentatious celebrations.

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Public Service Commission (Amendment) Act, 2018 amends the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Public Service Commission Ordinance 1978 and the conduct of examination tests for the purposes of promotion/selection on merit or for initial appointment.

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Protection Against Harassment of Women at the Workplace (Amendment) Act, 2018 amends The Protection against Harassment of Women at the Workplace Act 2010. It further lays down the procedure for the appointment of the Ombudsperson.

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Employees (Regularisation of Services) Act, 2018 states the procedure for appointment and provides for the regularisation of services of employees appointed on an ad hoc basis against civil posts and contract basis against project posts in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.


The following is a summarisation of all Acts passed by the Sindh Provincial Assembly in 2018, including 14 Amendments on previously existing Acts. This year again, Sindh has been the frontrunner in passing the highest number of statutes within one year.

The Sindh Public Procurement (Amendment) Act 2017 amended The Sindh Public Procurement Act, 2009, in section 2, for clause (p), where the definition of ‘services’ was reconstituted.

The Code of Criminal Procedure (Sindh Amendment) Act 2017 amends The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898, in its application to the Province of Sindh, in section 144, in sub-sections (a), (b), (c), (d), (e).

The Sindh Sales Tax on Services (Amendment) Act, 2018 amends The Sindh Sales Tax on Services Act 2011, substituting its provisions in Section 4 and Section 84.

The Sindh Holy Quran (Printing, Recording and Disposal of Damaged or Shaheed and Sacred Auraqs) Act, 2018 regulates the handling of the Holy Quran (Arabic text), in the context of its translation, drafting, disposal, and offences against the Act. This Act repeals The Publication of Holy Quran (Elimination of Printing and Recording Errors) Act, 1973 (Act No. LIV of 1973), in its application to the extent of the province of Sindh.

The West Pakistan Highways (Sindh Amendment) Act, 2018 amends the West Pakistan Highways Ordinance 1959, in its application to the province of Sindh.

University of Modern Sciences, Tando Muhammad Khan Act 2017 aims to upgrade and reconstitute the University of Modern Sciences to impart a higher and more systematic standard of Higher Education as defined in the Act. There is encouragement of, but not limited to, extensive research and publications, exams and award of educational degrees.

The Sohail University Act 2017 (Sindh Act No. XIII of 2018) provides for the establishment of Sohail University to impart a superior and more systematic standard of higher education as defined in the Act. There is encouragement of, but not limited to, extensive research and publications, exams and award of educational degrees.

The Sindh Maternity Benefits Act, 2018 provides safeguards to working women’s maternity benefits, proper child nursing and job security in public and private organisations. It enforces proper recognition of maternity leave for working women and ease for mothers-to-be to balance their personal and professional lives.

The Sindh Regularisation of Aesthetic and Laser Treatment Act, 2018 provides provisions to ensure regulations regarding laser and aesthetic skin treatments in establishments providing treatments, recognising that it is necessary to safeguard the public from amateur and fraudulent practices that can result in permanent disfiguration and injury.

The Emaan Institute of Management and Sciences at Karachi Act, 2018 provides for the establishment of the Emaan Institute of Management and Sciences at Karachi by the Al Hamd Educational Society which has committed to fully fund the establishment, future management, maintenance and operation.

The Sindh Sports Board (Amendment) Act, 2018 provides for the amendment of certain provisions of the Sindh Sports Board Ordinance 1980.

The Sindh Regularisation of Teachers appointed on Contract Basis Act, 2018 provides for regularisation of the services of certain teachers appointed on contract basis in the year 2014 through the National Testing Service (NTS) under the Teacher Recruitment Policy (TRP) 2012, and Sindh University under TRP-2008.

The Ziauddin University (Amendment) Act, 2018 amends Section 5 clause (xiv), Section 8(1) and Section 18 of the Ziauddin University Act 1995.

The Sindh Workers Welfare Fund (Amendment) Act, 2018 amends Section 3(2) and Section 9(2) in the Sindh Workers Welfare Fund Act


The Sindh Minimum Wages (Amendment) Act, 2018 amends Section 3(1) in the Sindh Minimum Wages Act 2015.

The Sindh Employees Social Security (Amendment) Act, 2018 made amendments in Section 2, 3(1), 5(1), 7(4), 20(1), 21, 23, 26, 32, 38, 39, 44, 57, 61, 62, 74, 75 and 84 of the Sindh Employees Social Security Act 2016.

The Sindh Employees Old-Age Benefits (Amendment) Act, 2018 amended Section 7(1)(c, d) in the Sindh Employees Old-Age Benefits Act 2014.

The Karachi Development Authority (Sindh Amendment) Act, 2018 amended Article 52-A, clause (2) in the Karachi Development Authority Order 1957.

The Sindh Development and Maintenance of Infrastructure Cess (Amendment) Act, 2018 added Section 19 to the Sindh Development and Maintenance of Infrastructure Cess Act, 2017, repealing the provisions of Section 9 of the Sindh Finance Act 1994.

The Sindh Land Tax and Agricultural Income Tax Ordinance 2000 (Amendment) Act, 2018 made amendments to the Preamble, Section 1(1), 2, Chapter II, 11, 13, 17, First Schedule and Second Schedule of the Sindh Land Tax and Agricultural Income Tax Ordinance 2000.

The Provincial Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 2018 amended the Provincial Motor Vehicles Ordinance, 1965 by inserting a new section 82-A, 82-B, 87-A and 101-A, as well as an amendment to Section 2, 94, 98 and the Twelfth Schedule in the West Pakistan Ordinance No. XIX of 1965. The additions in the Amendment make it mandatory for all motorists to give way to ambulances and other emergency vehicles, a continuing issue in Pakistan’s major cities.

The Sindh Home-Based Workers Act, 2018 formulates law relating to persons working in the informal or unorganised sector within their homes or in the surrounding grounds, and protection of their rights. It highlights social benefits and grants that are owed to home- based workers and regulation of their administration.

The Sindh Regularisation of Contingent paid or Work-charged Employees of Left Bank Outfall Drainage (LBOD) Act, 2018 provides for regularisation of the services of employees appointed on contingent or work-charged basis in the Left Bank Outfall Drainage (LBOD) of the Irrigation department of the Sindh Government.

The Regularisation of Doctors appointed on Contract or Ad hoc Basis Act, 2018 provides for regularisation of the services of all categories of doctors appointed on contract or ad hoc basis in the Health department or working in its projects, programmes and

health facilities.

The Sindh Regularisation of Veterinary Doctors Appointed on Contract Basis Act, 2018 provides for the regularisation of the services of certain doctors appointed on contract basis under the district-wise Veterinary Service Programme of the Livestock and Fisheries department, Sindh Government.


The focus in 2018 has been on administrative amendments. Apart from a few initiatives, there appears to be no real movement within the ambit of human rights in Pakistan.

The country has faced the reality of child abuse during the year as the media has raised awareness regarding the issue. Some action is being taken for the protection and welfare of children but the implementation in practical terms is less visible.

The Twenty-fifth Amendment in the Constitution regarding the allocation of seats even now lacks the ultimate gender equality that a democratic nation should represent.

The quota that has been allocated to women in the National Assembly has improved over the year although the true essence of the right to equality, which has been promised in the Constitution, is still lacking. Moreover, the alterations for women in the provincial seats has been negligible and the increase in the number of seats this year has not benefited women whatsoever.

The issue of enforced disappearances is more prevalent in Pakistan and the brutality of the crime is an offspring of the lack of legislation surrounding it. The inability of victims and their families to seek legal assistance in cases of enforced disappearance is a violation of fundamental rights.

The stifling of freedom of expression intensified when the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (PECA) 2016 was used to harass, subdue, and arbitrarily detain human rights defenders over commentary made online.

Blasphemy laws continued to contribute to the violation of the rights of Pakistan’s citizens, used as they are to settle personal disputes and enmities without the application of basic rule of law. The civil unrest incited after Aasia Bibi’s acquittal demonstrated the opposition of conservatives to a fair and accepting environment.

Minorities are still at the receiving end of discrimination despite the relevant legislation being enacted. Issues relating to human rights stem primarily from the cultural backgrounds of Pakistan’s various

communities and an intolerant mindset. However, it is the state’s responsibility to align its legislation with international obligations and standards of human rights.

Rule of Law

Administration of Justice

To enjoy the protection of law and to be treated in accordance with law is the inalienable right of every citizen, wherever he may be, and of every other person for the time being within Pakistan. In particular (a) no action detrimental to the life, liberty, body, reputation or property of any person shall be taken except in accordance with law, (b) no person shall be prevented from or be hindered in doing that which is not prohibited by law; and (c) no person shall be compelled to do that which the law does not require him to do.

Constitution of Pakistan Article 4(1) and (2) No person shall be deprived of life or liberty save in accordance with law.

Article 9 All citizens are equal before law and are entitled to equal protection of law. Article 25(1)

There shall be no discrimination on the basis of sex alone.

Article 25(2)

The state shall ensure inexpensive and expeditious justice.

Article 37(2) No property shall be compulsorily acquired or taken possession of save for a public purpose and save by authority of law

Article 24(2) Recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world. Universal Declaration of Human Rights Preamble Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law. Article 6 All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law.

Article 7 Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the Constitution or by law.

Article 8 Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any

criminal charge against him.

Article 10

No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.

Article 17(2) No one within the jurisdiction of a State Party to the present Optional protocol [on abolition of death penalty] shall be executed. Each State Party shall take all necessary measures to abolish the death penalty within its jurisdiction. Second Optional Protocol to ICCPR Article 1

In June 2018, the Chief Justice admitted that he had been unable to put his ‘house in order’, effectively conceding that the long overdue judicial reforms had yet to materialise, and that the courts were overwhelmed by a mounting backlog of cases. By year end, there were close to 1.9 million cases pending in over 250 lower, special, and superior courts, according to estimated official figures released by the Law and Justice Commission of Pakistan (LJCP).

The expeditious disposal of cases and revamping of the criminal justice system were among the topics for discussion at the 8th Judicial Conference 2018 held in Islamabad in May. However, no effective mechanisms were put in place as judicial activism took centre stage.

Judiciary – Pending cases

Pending cases in the Supreme Court (SC) hit an all-time high of 40,336 on 31 July. There has been an increase in the institution of cases in the top court—1,739 cases were filed in the month of July alone. During the same period, the SC decided 1,355 cases. In the first half of August, 682 new cases were received. The clearance of the backlog appeared an insurmountable task, with an average of over 1,000 cases added to the pendency every month, and the suffering of litigants was exacerbated by the slow judicial process.

According to Law & Justice Commission data, collected as at 15 January 2019, as many as 39,742 cases were pending in the top court. Similarly, in the high courts of all the provinces and Islamabad, 309,131 cases were pending. In the district judiciary, of the 1,470,264 cases yet to be decided, the Punjab accounted for 1,109,578 cases, Sindh 102,663; Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 202,641, Balochistan 14,139, and Islamabad 41,243.

The Panama Papers case which led to the disqualification of Nawaz Sharif alone lasted for months. Another petition seeking the disqualification of Imran Khan and Jehangir Tareen of the PTI took almost a year to arrive at a conclusion. According to some reports, the increasing number of pending cases was primarily due to there not

180,000 Pending Cases 167,117 160,000 140,000 120,000 100,000 89,576 80,000 60,000 39,742 40,000 29,270
Pending Cases
Lahore High Court
Sindh High Court
Peshawar High
Islamabad High
Balochistan High
Supreme Court
Federal Shariat

Data as at 15.01.19 - Law & Justice Commission of Pakistan

being sufficient judges to hear the cases.

The Judicial Conference in May recommended that the ‘number of courts and judicial staff should be increased for speedy disposition of cases.’ The delay in disposal of cases was attributed to the shortage of judges and strikes. The conference mentioned in this context that there was ‘a dire need for reduction of strikes in the courts.’

Two Acts had been passed the previous year to address this problem. The Cost of Litigation Act 2017 aimed to discourage vexatious and false proceedings under the Code of Civil Procedure, and the Alternate Dispute Resolution Act 2017 was intended to reduce the massive backlog in cases in the courts by offering ADR as a less expensive and quicker alternative to the courts in solving legal problems. ADR centres were subsequently established in all the lower courts throughout the Punjab.

Early in the year it was reported that a Bill was being drafted to establish evening courts in Islamabad, to operate between 5.00pm and 8.00pm, ‘for speedy disposal of cases and clearance of backlog.’ The district and sessions judge would supervise and monitor the courts, under the overall control of the High Court. At the end of August, the Standing Committee of the Cabinet for Disposal of Legislative Cases (CCLC) was reported to have approved the Evening Courts Bill 2017.

One key objective of this initiative was to ensure that children who had to appear in court could do so without having to miss school, as well as to keep children away from the traditional environment of courts. A pilot project of family courts in the evening was launched in November at the Lahore High Court under the West Pakistan Family Courts Act 1964 and Guardians & Wards Act 1890. This will be extended to 36 other districts if required for the expeditious deciding of family cases. Over time, it is expected that this new venture will be extended to the courts generally, and would necessitate the induction of more judges and associated staff.

the induction of more judges and associated staff. A pilot project of family courts in the

A pilot project of family courts in the evening was launched in November at the Lahore High Court.


The most touted promises of the new government have been to build a special task force to recover looted national wealth and to strongly pursue large tax evaders. The activities of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) have been prolific in 2018. The conviction rate was said to have reached 70 percent as the current NAB administration filed 440 corruption references, apprehended 503 accused persons, received 44,315 complaints, and conducted 1,713 complaint verifications during the year. NAB claimed to have deposited Rs2.5 billion in the national exchequer in 2018.

The pursuance of accountability has become extremely newsworthy, attracting both acclaim and criticism—and even apprehension, according to the Sindh Chief Minister, who said the fear and insecurity generated

by NAB was affecting the performance of government officials.

The most prominent case over the year was that of ex-premier Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz, and his son-in-law Captain Safdar. All three were granted bail and their sentences suspended. In December, however, Nawaz Sharif was convicted by the accountability in another case—Al-Azizia Steel Mills corruption reference—and given a seven- year jail sentence together with a fine of Rs1.5 billion and US$25 million.

His brother, Shahbaz Sharif, was implicated in the Ashiana Iqbal Housing Society corruption case in October. Former president Asif Ali Zardari and his sister, along with other prominent persons, were named in fake bank accounts and money laundering cases in July. The cases are ongoing.

Other prominent cases involved the instigations of investigations into Bahria Town, Defence Housing Authority (DHA) and Capital Development Authority (CDA) after a Supreme Court verdict in a case against the housing projects. A PML-N MNA and his brother, a former Punjab health minister, were arrested and accused of misdealing in the Paragon Housing Society scam.

A 17-year-old corruption case against three former generals and a

brigadier was re-opened in February when the Islamabad High Court ruled that the army’s accountability process could not shield retired military officers. The formal corruption reference against them was filed in April.

In December, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) recommended to

the Supreme Court that the Asghar Khan verdict implementation case be closed, citing its inability to gather evidence required to launch criminal

proceedings. Air Marshal Khan had filed a human rights petition in the

SC in 1996, accusing the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) of facilitating a

group of politicians and political parties in the 1990s. The SC had found in favour, but left it to the then PPP government to take action under the Constitution and the law.

Others caught in the NAB net included former prime ministers Yousuf Raza Gilani and Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, politicians, media personalities, and even the current prime minister’s advisor Babar Awan who resigned after NAB filed a reference against him in the Nandipur power plant case.

A former Punjab University Vice-Chancellor Dr Mujahid Kamran,

arrested by NAB for allegedly hiring people illegally and granting contracts to undeserving companies, was later released on bail. He claimed the accountability watchdog was torturing people in custody and had installed CCTV cameras in washrooms.

The Supreme Court took suo motu notice of 70-year-old Dr Kamran being led to his Lahore court hearing in handcuffs. The NAB Chairperson also took notice of the incident and directed the Bureau’s Lahore chief to investigate the matter and take action against the people involved. The National Commission on Human Rights (NCHR) wrote to NAB in November asking them not to humiliate detainees, saying ‘basic human rights cannot be curtailed even if someone has been put into jail.’

be curtailed even if someone has been put into jail.’ 70-year-old Dr Kamran being led to

70-year-old Dr Kamran being led to his Lahore court hearing in handcuffs.

The CEO of the University of Sargodha, Mian Javed Ahmed, had been arrested by NAB in October on charges of corruption. He died in judicial custody in Lahore District Jail in December and was reportedly in handcuffs even after death. There was an outcry on social media and HRCP expressed grave concern at the way in which people’s fundamental right to dignity was being eroded away, ostensibly in the name of accountability. The Commission further stated that the innocence or guilt of those taken into custody by state institutions such as NAB needed to be established under the law and with strict and transparent regard for due process.

Towards the end of December, NCHR took suo motu notice of Mian Javed’s death and told NAB to allow a team of the commission to inspect their places of detention.

Around the same time the Punjab additional chief secretary (Home) directed the inspector-general of prisons to strictly treat the inmates allegedly involved in different cases instituted by NAB according to the rules, and to ensure that no one was given any extra facilities in the jails.

Suo motu intervention

There was much controversy over the proliferation of suo motu notices and action during the year, on a wide range of issues relating to public interest, human rights, health, education, and even population control, as well as matters that had been pending for decades. Some seemed insignificant, even inappropriate, for the attention of the apex court, such as the incident involving a Gilgit-Baltistan minister pushing an airport officer at Islamabad airport, the transfer of a police officer under political influence, the exorbitant fees at private hospitals, and the banning of Indian content on Pakistan TV channels, as well as ‘contemptuous speeches’ against the judiciary.

Other notices met with more appreciation, especially when the notice taken by the Supreme Court expedited the filing of cases: the brutal rape and murder of little Zainab in Kasur; the case of a child maid tortured by her employers; the murder of a journalist associated with a Lahore-based newspaper in Sialkot; the killing of people belonging to the Hazara community in Quetta, and the inquiry into the negligence of police and private hospitals after the tragic death of the child Amal, caught in police crossfire.

One of the most important was the notice taken of the extrajudicial killing of Naqeebullah Mehsud in an ‘encounter’ in Karachi, a case that lingers on. SSP Rao Anwar—known as the ‘encounter specialist’—was booked for killing four men, including Naqeebullah, in a fake encounter in Shah Latif Town on 13 January 2018. He was also booked for claiming fake recoveries of illicit arms and explosives on the victims. Rao Anwar absconded until his arrest on 21 March. He was granted bail in July.

In 2017, a judicial magistrate sentenced law student Shah Husain to prison for seven years for stabbing 21-year-old fellow student Khadija Siddiqui, 23 times. During the trial, both evidence and statements of witnesses were taken into account in the judge’s ruling that it was attempted murder ‘without any shadow of a minor doubt’.

In June 2018, the Lahore High Court overturned the verdict. Acquitting the assailant, Justice Sardar Ahmed Naeem in a controversial judgment ruled the prosecution had ‘failed to prove guilt beyond reasonable doubt’. The fact that Shah Hussain’s father belonged to the legal fraternity caused some to doubt judicial independence. Khadija, steadfast in her determination to obtain justice, took heart when the Supreme Court, amid the uproar, decided to use its powers to re-examine the case, even without a formal complaint.

The Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) in December reiterated its demand for framing of rules by the Supreme Court for regulating the exercise of suo motu powers under Article 184(3) of the Constitution by the top court.

Justice System Reform

A key discussion at the Judicial Conference in May revolved around the

need to counteract the drift towards lawlessness and extremism through the rule of law, a culture of tolerance and the guarantee of justice. Much

emphasis was placed on the long-term measures needed to improve the criminal justice system, a continuing refrain throughout the year from several quarters.

In November, the PPP expressed concern over the ‘broken criminal justice system’ and called for an overhaul of the system including the creation of a separate constitutional court in the country besides the Supreme Court, an amendment to the Constitution to provide the right of appeal against decisions in all suo motu cases under Article 184(3), and a review of the procedure for appointment of superior court judges.

The Strengthening Participatory Organisation (SPO) organised a conference in July, titled ‘Rule of Law: Access to Justice and Citizen Inclusion’, where it was stated that many vulnerable and marginalised people in the country including women and minorities, especially those from the lowest socioeconomic classes and rural areas, were in fact unable to get justice or access to legal aid and were not even aware of their legal rights.

The Pakistan government supported the recommendation in its 2012 Universal Periodic Review Report to ‘continue the reform of the judiciary’. Point 20 of the National Action Plan (NAP) requires reform in the criminal justice system, and this remains one of the most neglected actions, with no distinct progress at either federal or provincial level. Several of the other points in the NAP are interlinked with criminal justice which has a direct impact on their effective implementation. The NACTA National Counter Extremism Policy Guidelines (NCEPG) 2018 go some way towards addressing this, but implementation across the provinces could prove problematic, with the lack of coordination between federal and provincial authorities.

Tensions between the bar and the bench have also highlighted the flaws

in the judicial infrastructure, a fact recognised in the Judicial Conference

declaration that ‘both the Bar and the Bench must work together in order

to curb delays’. There were numerous reports of stand-offs between judges and lawyers, and the activism of lawyers in campaigning for

separate high court benches to be established received much news coverage. An uncompromising resolution passed by the Karachi Bar Association in June, ostensibly over the Chief Justice’s alleged disparagement of an additional district judge in Sindh which resulted

in his resignation, implied that the CJ was micro-managing the judicial

system and interfering in the functioning of high courts. Prolonged activism by lawyers has often disrupted and delayed court proceedings.

Prolonged activism by lawyers often disrupted and delayed court proceedings. In December, in expressing dissatisfaction

Prolonged activism by lawyers often disrupted and delayed court proceedings.

In December, in expressing dissatisfaction on the performance of NAB, the Prime Minister indicated that legislation for legal reforms for the early disposal of cases would be done through presidential ordinances—a reference to the fact that the opposition had a majority in the Senate.

Military courts

The continuing excessive delays in the trial process and low conviction rates resulted in the extension of the mandate for military courts until March 2019. It was reported that the government was seeking another similar extension after that deadline. A decision was still outstanding at the end of the year, with some members of the opposition saying they would not support an extension.

According to the ISPR—the media wing of the Pakistan military— since inception the military courts had taken on 717 cases, out of which 646 were logically concluded. Death sentences were awarded to 345 terrorists.

The interior ministry presented different figures to the National Assembly in December: Of the total 717 cases referred to the military courts, 478 cases had been decided, which meant that the conviction rate of the cases was more than 60 percent. Death sentences had been awarded to 284 convicts and 56 of them had already been executed. Similarly, 192 convicts had been awarded rigorous imprisonment, two accused had been acquitted, and 54 cases dropped for technical reasons.

According to the ministry, 185 were still under process and had to be completed by March 2019.

During the year, the Peshawar High Court (PHC) overturned a number of convictions by military courts. In October, the PHC set aside convictions by military courts of as many as 74 terrorism-accused, the majority of whom faced death sentences.

Earlier, in September, another bench of the PHC stayed the execution of a man who, his father claimed, had gone missing in 2009. According to the father, he came to know about the fate of his son through a May 2018 ISPR press release announcing the award of the death sentence to 11 ‘hardcore militants’ by a military court.

This is an indication that the requirements of justice are not being fully met in the military courts, known for their lack of transparency, disregard of eyewitness accounts, and not giving the accused the benefit of the doubt in the absence of sufficient evidence.

Blasphemy (see also Freedom of Thought, Conscience, and Religion)

The landmark judgment on the acquittal of Aasia Bibi was a beacon of hope for opponents of the blasphemy law and a sign that, even in a flawed judicial system, the rule of law was still capable of protecting an innocent victim.

Aasia spent eight years on death row until she was acquitted by the Supreme Court in October. At the end of the year she was still in protective custody until the ruling has been reviewed and she can leave the country to claim asylum.

The judgment could herald a new era of judicial precedent in which someone accused of blasphemy will not be presumed guilty before the trial begins. Accusations of blasphemy have an instantly inflammatory effect, and threats from radical extremists are a very real concern for judges and lawyers involved in such cases.

Weeks after Aasia’s acquittal, two Christian brothers were sentenced to death for blasphemy. Qaiser and Amoon Ayub from Lahore fled the country after they were first accused in 2011 but eventually returned home. They were arrested at the airport while trying to leave a second time and have been in Jhelum prison since 2014. They were convicted in December of the ‘use of derogatory remarks in respect of the Holy Prophet’, and sentenced to hang, after the judge ruled that the prosecution had proved its case beyond the shadow of reasonable doubt.

Though no one has yet been hanged for committing blasphemy, the delay in pronouncing a verdict is a tactic often employed by the judiciary to keep the accused behind bars—many languish for decades before being acquitted.


Transgender people (see also Women)

There was much progress evident in 2018 for transgender rights. The state responded to campaigns launched by transgender rights activists to improve state-based facilities and legislation protecting and enhancing their rights with the enacting of the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2018.

of the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2018. Transgender community celebrating the passing of transgender

Transgender community celebrating the passing of transgender bill of rights

In January, for the first time in the history of Pakistan, a commissioner for transgender persons was appointed at the Wafaqi Mohtasib Secretariat to redress the grievances of the community, as well as systemic issues, through consultations with key stakeholders, research and studies. The commissioner was also empowered to take suo motu action with prior written approval from the Federal Ombudsman of Pakistan, coordinating with the law enforcement agencies and making efforts for their welfare.

The Punjab Chief Secretary said in June that, in accordance with the orders of the Supreme Court, the process for the issuance of computerised national identity cards (CNICs) to transgender people would be made simple and easy under a one-window operation, by setting up facilitation centres in all districts through NADRA’s mobile vans.

In September, the Lahore High Court sought an explanation of the unavailability of separate wards and rooms in public hospitals for the transgender community, in response to a petition that pointed out the Supreme Court had already issued an order in this regard which had not been complied with.

The same month, the transgender community in the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad expressed their resentment over the

discriminatory treatment they received in healthcare facilities. The Forum of Dignity Initiatives (FDI) and Blue Veins produced a study— Barriers to the Provision of and Access to Quality Healthcare for Transgender Population of Pakistan—highlighting the serious widespread ignorance, insensitivity, and discriminatory attitude of the healthcare providers.

By the end of November, the Human Rights Minister and the Federal

Minister for National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination, inaugurated a separate ward at PIMS Hospital in Islamabad, announcing free treatment and separate doctors for transgender patients.

It is too early to comment on the effects that the recently enacted Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act will have but, as in all other human rights issues, the implementation of legislation is often a supremely difficult task.

Racial Profiling

In June, at least eight people including four Pashtuns in Lahore were injured in a ‘clash’ between the local residents and Pashtun traders over a petty dispute which turned into an incident of alleged racial profiling. According to witnesses, an announcement was made from a nearby mosque calling on all the residents to ‘teach the Pashtuns a lesson’. The Pashtun traders shut down their shops and fled the attackers, who then allegedly damaged and ransacked the shops. The traders said the police had been reluctant to register an FIR on their behalf but had allowed an FIR against them. In August, the Punjab Police removed from its official website a list of ‘Real Terrorism’ that contained pictures and names of Punjab University students, mostly Pashtuns and Balochis, after an uproar on social media.

A controversial government advertisement was pulled from TV

broadcasts on 15 September 2018 after it courted controversy and allegations of racial profiling of Pashtuns. The advert urged people to report hate speech, display of arms, illegal use of loudspeakers, and any other suspicious activity.

Cases of significance

Supreme Court

The Court acquitted Aasia Bibi, a Christian woman condemned to death on blasphemy charges, after accepting her appeal against her sentence, saying the ‘prosecution has categorically failed to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt.’

The Supreme Court (SC) reinstated a ban on the transmission of Indian content on terrestrial, satellite, and cable TV channels, setting aside an earlier verdict by the Lahore High Court (LHC), and citing as justification the fact that India was constructing a dam in the

country’s northern territory claimed by Delhi and was blocking rivers that flow into Pakistan.

In a landmark verdict, the Supreme Court ruled that disqualification handed down under Article 62 (1)(f) of the Constitution was for life. The Article sets the precondition for a member of parliament to be “sadiq’ and ‘ameen” (honest and righteous).

While hearing a case pertaining to exorbitant fees charged by private schools, the Court ordered a 20 percent decrease in fees, and directed the schools to return half the fees they had charged for the summer vacations. The order was applicable to private schools across the country whose fees were in excess of Rs5,000. The Court had ordered the schools to furnish their audit reports in October, and had formed a committee to find an amicable solution to the issue.

The Court delivered a landmark judgment in dismissing Tatheer Fatima’s petition to remove her father’s name from her birth certificate and all other official documents as he had neither paid for her maintenance nor registered her with NADRA, due to which she could not obtain an identity card. She had requested the court to add ‘Bint-e-Pakistan’ in place of her surname. The court-appointed advocate acting as amicus advised that the father’s name on official documents was mandatory, and NADRA would have to install new software to skip the father’s section. The Court added that the father’s name could not be taken off under the Islamic Sharia and Constitution.

The Supreme Court ordered the federal cabinet to review its decision to place the names of Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah and other politicians on the Exit Control List (ECL). The Court was hearing a suo motu case on a delay in a 2015 probe into fake bank accounts allegedly used to launder billions of rupees.

Lahore High Court

The Court upheld the verdict of an anti-terrorism court in the rape and murder case of six-year-old Zainab of Kasur, and dismissed Imran Ali’s appeal against his death sentence.

While hearing petitions against ‘contemptuous’ speeches by PML-N leaders, the Court ordered the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) to make sure that no TV channels aired any ‘anti- judiciary speeches’ in the future, and to ensure strict monitoring of programmes to prevent any such content from being broadcast.

The Court acquitted a man convicted earlier on charges of trying to kill Khadija Siddique in a brutal knife attack. Shah Hussain, the son of a senior lawyer, had been handed down seven years’ rigorous

imprisonment in 2017 by a judicial magistrate, which was later commuted to five years by a sessions court in March. The original judge had observed that the crime had been established beyond doubt.

observed that the crime had been established beyond doubt. Khadija Siddique was stabbed 23 times by

Khadija Siddique was stabbed 23 times by Shah Hussain, the son of a prominent lawyer.

The Court rejected a mother’s petition for stay of execution of her ‘schizophrenic’ son Khizar Hayat, noting that the condemned had been ‘convicted by the country’s biggest court’. The bench had asked the petitioner’s counsel to prove that Hayat was ill and also apprise the court under which law a schizophrenic prisoner could not be executed.

Sindh High Court

A division bench of the Sindh High Court Hyderabad circuit expressed displeasure over the cases of two missing persons from 2015 and 2016 and directed police officials to appear in person before it as there were specific allegations against them. The Court ordered that the Sindh home secretary form a joint interrogation team (JIT) for the recovery of a resident of Hyderabad in line with an earlier order and directed the SP Hyderabad to provide legal protection to life and liberty of the petitioner.

While hearing a bail application of a suspect allegedly involved in subjecting a three-and-a-half-year-old girl to criminal assault after abducting her from the house of her maternal grandmother in a Korangi locality earlier in the year, the Court expressed serious concerns over the poor investigation of the case. The Court issued guidelines to the police for investigation of such cases, underlining the need for proper coordination between the investigating and prosecuting agencies and directing that measurers be taken for the

protection of the victims as well as proper training of investigating officers.

The Court accepted an application filed by the father of Naqeebullah Mehsud—killed in a staged encounter in Karachi early in 2018—to transfer the case to another anti-terrorism court (ATC). The appellant had expressed lack of confidence with the ATC-II judge hearing the case, a view shared by the prosecutor.

In hearing a case regarding more than five percent increases in tuition fees by private schools and institutions, the Court ordered private schools to restore the fee structure in place on 20 September 2017 and reimburse any excess fees charged. The court also ordered the schools to desist from collecting three months’ fees in advance, and said that non-compliance with the order would result in contempt of court proceedings.

Peshawar High Court

The Court suspended the death sentence handed to a man convicted for terrorism by a military court for an attack on a civilian funeral service in Mardan, which resulted in the deaths of 30 people. The plaintiff’s lawyer submitted that Burhanuddin was mentally unfit, undergoing treatment before and throughout the duration of his custody, and had not been given a fair trial. The Court accepted the family’s plea and asked the federal government and departments concerned to submit a report.

The Court stayed the execution of eight terror convicts by suspending the death sentence awarded to them by military courts and summoned the records of their cases from the defence ministry.

A single-member bench granted bail to a man suspected of being involved in murdering a transgender person and dismembering the body. The bench observed that it appeared from the records that not one iota of evidence had been collected during investigation to show the petitioner’s involvement in the murder and therefore his case was arguable for the purpose of bail.

In considering a case of the convictions by military courts of 74 people accused of terrorism, the Court set aside the convictions and sentences as having been based on malice in law and facts, and lack of evidence, and directed that all the convicts/internees be set free.

A single-member bench temporarily stopped the execution of a militancy convict charged by a military court of attacking law enforcement officers. Issuing the stay order, the bench ordered the defence and interior ministries to respond to a petition filed by Bashir Ahmad’s wife, and sought records of the case.

Islamabad High Court

In a landmark judgment in the case of the disappearance of IT expert Sajid Mehmood, the Court ruled that officials involved in enforced disappearances would be subject to criminal sanctions and may be charged under the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA). It said the police had ignored grave violations of fundamental rights of citizens in not investigating the case. The Court said it was the ‘duty and obligation of the State to take effective and prompt action when “enforced disappearance” has been alleged’. In its judgment, the High Court used a definition of enforced disappearances in line with the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (ICPPED), despite Pakistan not having ratified it.


Expedite the reforms of the criminal justice system under the National Action Plan and ensure implementation across the country to improve coordination and conformity in law and order.

Address issues of conflicting jurisprudence on similar questions of law. Conflicting judgments give rise to frivolous litigation and larger backlog of cases and will create uncertainty in the interpretation of legal provisions and maxims.

Exercise sparingly the discretionary power of taking suo motu notices by the Supreme Court, ensuring that these matters are expeditiously disposed of with directions to concerned parties, as opposed to being kept in pendency for long periods. Make all decisions delivered under Article 184 (3) of the Constitution of Pakistan, 1973 (in exercise of the Supreme Court’s suo motu powers or on an application by anyone) appealable.

Ensure inclusion in the selection criteria for the appointment of judges an assessment of the candidates’ knowledge of human rights issues. Candidates who demonstrate a bias against gender or minorities should not be elevated to the bench.

Ensure fair and transparent trials for everyone as there is little evidence to show that military courts have succeeded in increasing respect for the rule of law.

Reinstate the moratorium on the death penalty and also consider abolishing it by ratifying the Second Optional Protocol of the ICCPR.

Restrict the number of offences carrying the death penalty to the most serious crimes only, and refrain from adopting new crimes entailing capital punishment.

Rule of Law

Death Penalty

No one within the jurisdiction of a State Party to the present Optional protocol [on abolition of death penalty] shall be executed. Each State Party shall take all necessary measures to abolish the death penalty within its jurisdiction. Second Optional Protocol to ICCPR Article 1

At the tail end of the year, human rights campaigners and proponents

of justice and mercy were stunned at the news that Pakistan, along with

161 other countries, had voted in favour of a UN resolution calling for a

moratorium on the death penalty. Sadly, the news really was too good

to be true—within hours the Foreign Office said that the UN had made

a ‘mistake’. Pakistan had voted against the resolution in accordance

with its ‘consistent policy’. This was yet another missed opportunity. Particularly at risk are the poor and undereducated, who have to rely on substandard legal defence.

The extraction of ‘confessions’ under duress, unsubstantiated evidence and allegations made to settle personal scores, defective investigations by law enforcement officers, and the military courts who operate without

transparency, are all characteristics of the flawed criminal justice system that allows the death penalty to be handed down for 27 offences. Many

of these offences do not cause death.

Grim statistics

According to Justice Project Pakistan (JPP), a non-governmental organisation working for prisoner’s rights:

There were 4,688 prisoners on death row at the end of the year.

At least 500 have been executed since 2014, 14 of them in 2018.

Despite a reduction in death row numbers, Pakistan continues to account for 13 percent of global executions.

The Punjab still accounts for 81 percent of the executions carried out, and 89 percent of the death sentences awarded since 2014.

The average time a person will spend on death row is 11 years.

The Amnesty International report, Death Sentences and Executions 2017, which was released in April 2018, placed Pakistan 5 th amongst the

countries where most executions took place, and among four countries which together accounted for 84 percent of all reported executions.

The report also mentioned that it ‘believed that juvenile offenders remained on death row’ in Pakistan, along with four other countries, noting that ‘imposition and execution of the death penalty against people who were aged under 18 when the crime was committed is a violation of international law’. Pakistan was also mentioned along with several countries where people with mental or intellectual disabilities were executed or remained under sentence of death.

Figures submitted by the Federal Ombudsman to the Supreme Court indicated that there had been a drop of 2,476 prisoners on death row. Despite a 35 percent reduction in the death row population since 2012, Pakistan accounts for 24 percent of the world’s death row and continues to add prisoners at an average 351 annually since 2004.

Pakistan’s prisons are severely overcrowded, with inmates said to be 57 percent over capacity. As many as eight prisoners could be confined for most of the day in a cell meant to accommodate two, as their numbers are topped up regularly.




































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HRCP Death Penalty monitoring data











Mental illness and the death penalty

The death sentences handed down to Kaniz Fatima and Imdad Ali, both of whom had a history of mental illness. were reviewed by the Supreme Court in April. At the time, the Chief Justice said ‘Neither reason nor sensibility allow me to believe that we can execute a mentally ill or disabled person’.

In October the SC ordered the formation of a medical board of renowned

psychiatrists to re-examine Imdad Ali to determine exactly when his illness had started. He has been in prison for 16 years and has received multiple execution warrants. The medical board was directed to provide their final report within two months. A member of the bench remarked that ‘We have to decide whether the execution of an inmate will remain relevant if the convict had developed the disease two years before his execution date.’

The same order was applied to Kaniz Fatima who has been in prison for 29 years and, according to her lawyers, has not spoken for 12 years and is not able to eat, drink or take care of herself without assistance.

Saleem Ahmad, 63, has been in prison for 14 years, accused of murder. The investigation officer testified to having knowledge of his mental illness, and the trial court recognised that he was ‘insane’ and ‘did not have any orientation about time and space.’ Despite this, he was sentenced to death in 2004. His scheduled execution in November 2017 was stayed and subsequently, in November 2018, a medical board confirmed that he was suffering from chronic schizophrenia, which required regular medical treatment.

In November, Human Rights Watch urged Pakistan to remove people with psychosocial disabilities from death row as it violated the ‘country’s international legal obligations’ to ensure the right to be free from cruel, inhumane, or degrading punishment.

Beyond the shadow of a doubt

The Justice Project Pakistan report found that a special appellate bench, formed by the Supreme Court to adjudicate upon murder appeals, had overturned 467 death sentences in 546 appeals, that is 85 percent, since December 2014.

Most of the decisions cited faulty investigations, evidence and mistrials. Whether a single bench can keep up with the number of death sentences meted out at a rate higher than the world average is questionable, particularly given that the study says a prisoner spends on average 11 years on death row before acquittal or commutation of a death sentence. There have also been reported instances where prisoners have been executed before being acquitted of the crime they were accused of.

During the year, the Peshawar High Court overturned a number of sentences awarded by military courts. In October, the PHC ordered the release of 74 convicts accused of involvement in terrorism on the grounds that the charges against them could not be proved. It was reported that close to 50 of them had been sentenced to death.

The civil dispute factor

Another aspect highlighted by the JPP report was that civil disputes

involving a homicide were predominate amongst the cases resulting in death sentences. It was suggested that delays in resolving civil disputes moved people to take matters into their own hands, with the inevitable violence and fatalities inviting death sentences for the perpetrators.

fatalities inviting death sentences for the perpetrators. HRCP holds a rally against the death penalty The

HRCP holds a rally against the death penalty

The way forward

Amnesty International claimed in their report Death Sentences and Executions 2017 that there was a global trend towards the abolition of the death penalty, and its secretary general said that ‘the isolation of the world’s remaining executing countries could not be starker’.

While the abolition of the death penalty has to be the ultimate goal, a first step for the long-neglected reform of the criminal justice system would be to restore the moratorium pending the review. The high incidences of death sentences being overturned by the Supreme Court clearly demonstrate that the current system leaves too much room for error and miscarriages of justice. Unless curtailed, it will continue to make hapless victims of the underprivileged and unrepresented.


Reinstate the moratorium on the death penalty and also consider abolishing it by ratifying the Second Optional Protocol of the ICCPR.

Restrict the number of offences carrying the death penalty to the most serious crimes only, and refrain from adopting new crimes entailing capital punishment.

Rule of Law

Pakistan and International Human Rights Mechanisms

Universal Periodic Review

The year 2018 was an important one for assessment of Pakistan’s international human rights commitments and compliance with treaty obligations. In March, the United Nations Human Rights Council adopted the outcomes of Pakistan’s third Universal Periodic Review (UPR).

The UPR is a key mechanism of the UN Human Rights Council which assesses the human rights situation of all UN member states with the objective of improving the fulfilment and compliance of the human rights obligations and commitments of the member states. The UPR is essentially a peer-reviewed process, and status of fulfilment of human rights obligations of each country is reviewed every four to five years by the UPR Working Group, consisting of the 47 UN member states of the Human Rights Council. All UN member states have the right to take part and make recommendations in the discussions during the UPR of the reviewed states.

The third UPR report highlighted areas of concern that remain in Pakistan since its previous UPRs in 2012 and 2008. Pakistan had its third UPR on 16 November 2017 and received a total of 289 recommendations during the review. Delegations of 111 states took the floor to make statements, and 14 states submitted their questions in advance.

Pakistan received a broad range of recommendations during the review process. These included reinstatement of a moratorium on execution with the aim of abolishing the death penalty completely; repealing or amending ‘blasphemy laws’ to bring them in line with international human rights law; and ensuring effective protection of the rights of religious minorities, human rights defenders, journalists and other vulnerable groups, amongst many others.

Pakistan has implemented some of the recommendations from the second cycle of UPR in 2012. It established the National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR), a statutory authority to monitor human rights, but which still needs to be properly empowered to operate independently. Pakistan has also enacted legislation, as promised, criminalising domestic violence and workplace harassment, addressing the lacunae in the anti-honour killing bill, and enacting a law to register

Hindu marriages.

In adopting the second cycle UPR outcome report, Pakistan agreed to ensure accountability for violent attacks and other abuses on religious minorities. Pakistan also agreed to adopt measures to prevent the abuse of blasphemy laws, and halt forced conversions. Despite that, since 2012 religious minorities have faced sharply increased insecurity and persecution.

In its statement on the outcome report of the UPR, Pakistan promised to ‘review and align the legislation with freedom of religion and belief and freedom of expression, as stipulated in the ICCPR.’

Section 295-C of Pakistan’s penal code makes the death penalty mandatory for blasphemy, although no one to date has been executed for the crime. The Pakistani government failed to amend or repeal the blasphemy law provisions that provide a pretext for impunity and violence against religious minorities.

During its UPR review in 2012, Pakistan accepted the recommendation to take measures to ‘bring to justice perpetrators of attacks on journalists by effectively investigating all individuals and organisations accused of such abuses.’ However, no progress has been made in this regard, nor has the government acted on its commitment to ‘introduce strong legislation prohibiting attacks against journalists to effectively investigate such acts and prosecute the perpetrators.’

In its 2012 UPR, the Pakistan government supported the recommendation to, ‘continue the reform of the judiciary, law enforcement and the penitentiary system, as well as continue the policy to reduce crime and corruption.’ Instead of taking measures to reform the criminal justice system, the Pakistan government approved the functioning of secret military courts empowered to try civilians and impose the death penalty in terrorism-related cases.

Pakistan supported the recommendation during its last UPR to, ‘specifically criminalise enforced disappearances in the penal code and reinforce the capacities of the Pakistanis [sic] Inquiry Commission on Enforced Disappearances in order that the Commission can fully carry out its mission.’ Pakistan has failed to uphold that commitment.

In the last UPR in 2012, the Pakistan government accepted the recommendation to ‘consolidate measures to address sexual abuses and exploitation of children.’ In May 2016, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child concluded its review of Pakistan and expressed concern about a number of issues affecting children, including executions, the impact of sectarian violence and terrorism, alleged torture and ill-treatment in police custody, and use of children in the worst forms of labour. The Pakistani government failed to establish the National Commission on

Protesters demand the recovery of missing persons at a rally at the Liberty roundabout in

Protesters demand the recovery of missing persons at a rally at the Liberty roundabout in Lahore

the Rights of the Child, an independent body to protect and enforce child rights in the country.

During the 2012 UPR, the Pakistan government agreed to ‘continue working for the welfare of children, women and persons with disabilities.’ Pakistan ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2011, yet implementation has been slow. For example, under the convention Pakistan is obliged to provide adequate health care, support, and procedural adjustments to enable people with disabilities to participate in the judicial process. Yet adequate safeguards for the rights of prisoners with disabilities have not been put in place.

Some individuals with physical or psychosocial disabilities were on death row in very difficult conditions, including solitary confinement, which can severely exacerbate previously existing mental health conditions.

On protection of human rights defenders, specifically, Canada recommended that Pakistan bring to justice anyone who threatens, abducts or attacks human rights defenders, journalists, bloggers, or others who work to promote democracy. On ensuring freedom of expression, Austria recommended introducing strong legislation prohibiting attacks against journalists, to effectively investigate such acts and to prosecute the perpetrators.

The Pakistan delegation to the UPR mentioned its key recent achievements as the Elections Act 2017, encouraging the participation of women in elections as both candidates and voters; a review of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to identify the changes necessary in the relevant laws; the introduction in the Senate of the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill; the enactment of the laws against rape and ‘honour’ crimes; adoption of the law on the protection of children and the National Commission on the Rights of the Child Act to bring the legal system into conformity with the Convention on the Rights of the Child; the adoption of the National Health Vision (2016–2025) to set national priorities with clear budgeted targets; and the introduction of the Bill on compulsory child immunisation.

Regarding achievements at the provincial level, the Pakistan delegation mentioned the adoption of the Punjab Protection of Women against Violence Act; Acts on domestic violence in Sindh and Balochistan; the Punjab Fair Representation of Women Act; and the Punjab Marriage Restraint (Amendment) Act. The delegation stated that institutions such as the Inter-provincial Ministerial Group were working for the promotion and protection of human rights across the country. The delegation stated that the application of the death penalty was in full compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. It was applicable only for the most serious crimes. It could not be imposed on an individual under the age of 18.

The delegation also argued that the blasphemy laws were non-

The delegation also argued that the blasphemy laws were non- Pakistan still needs to do a

Pakistan still needs to do a lot more to support key human rights principles, such as taking effective measures to prevent the abuse of blasphemy legislation

discriminatory in nature, dealt with offences against all religions, and were applied to Muslims and non-Muslims alike, and several safeguards were in place to prevent their abuse.

On growing concerns regarding freedom of expression the delegation stated that free expression was preserved through Article 19 of the Constitution and that the safety of journalists was of paramount importance in view of the instrumental role played by them in ensuring freedom of the press, fostering a culture of accountability, and protecting citizens’ rights.

HRCP’s response to the UPR

Marking the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) organised a public lecture by its honorary spokesperson and veteran human rights defender, I A Rehman in December 2018. The event was attended widely by civil society, including students, lawyers, human rights activists and media persons.

The theme of the lecture was to assess Pakistan’s performance during its third Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in 2017. Under the auspices of the Human Rights Council, all member states are given the opportunity to declare what actions they have taken to improve the human rights situations in their countries and to meet their human rights obligations.

HRCP expressed its grave concerns at the exponential rise in the number of recommendations Pakistan had received from its peers with respect to human rights concerns in the country. The Commission was encouraged by the recommendations that had been ‘supported’ by Pakistan under the 2017 Review, which included the reduction of poverty and inequality; making enforced disappearance a criminal offence and ensuring that all allegations of enforced disappearance and extrajudicial executions were thoroughly investigated; ensuring that all perpetrators of torture were brought to justice; the right to a fair trial for all; and preventing impunity for crimes against journalists and media workers.

However, Pakistan had chosen to ‘note’, rather than ‘support’, key human rights principles such as reporting the investigation and prosecution of security forces that commit human rights violations and abuses; amending discriminatory laws against marginalised groups, including women and girls and ethnic and religious minorities; protecting the rights of the child more effectively, particularly during counter-terrorism activities; desisting from issuing death sentences and executing juveniles; and taking effective measures to prevent the abuse of blasphemy legislation and the use of violence against religious minorities.

In a statement, HRCP strongly urged the state to commit to its

willingness to continue cooperating with the United Nations human rights mechanism, and to apply both in principle and practice the UPR recommendations it had ‘noted’ as well as ‘supported’.

HRCP stressed that, by 2022, the country’s human rights record must be seen to improve substantially—not merely to uphold an international image, but because these principles were part of the state’s moral and responsibility to its citizens and residents under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to which it was a signatory.

At the lecture, former senator Farhatullah Babar called for the 2017 report of the third Universal Periodic Review containing the UN recommendations and the promises made by Pakistan to improve its human rights record to be placed before Parliament. He pointed to the deteriorating human rights situation in the country where enforced disappearances continued with impunity, internment centres had become Guantanamo like prisons, the security of human rights defenders was diminishing, movement was restricted, censorship imposed, and there was no legislation to protect the rights of refugees.

Election to the UN Human Rights Council

In October 2017, Pakistan was elected to serve as a member of the UN Human Rights Council from January 2018 to December 2020. The UN General Assembly selected 15 states to serve as members of the UN Human Rights Council for the three-year term. From the Asia-Pacific region, Nepal, Qatar, Afghanistan, and Pakistan were selected out of five candidates.

According to UN General Assembly Resolution 60/251, ‘members elected to the Council shall uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights.’ The Resolution also provides that ‘when electing members of the Council, Member States shall take into account the contribution of candidates to the promotion and protection of human rights and their voluntary pledges and commitments made thereto.’

Pakistan has affirmed in its election pledge to the Human Rights Council that it is ‘firmly resolved to uphold, promote and safeguard universal human rights and fundamental freedoms for all.’ However, according to international human rights organisations, the pledge did not directly address many of the most serious human rights issues facing Pakistan, including enforced disappearances, the use of the death penalty, blasphemy laws, the country’s use of military courts, women’s rights including the right to education, and threats to the work of human rights defenders, lawyers, and journalists.

Cooperation with United Nations Special Procedures

Since 2012, Pakistan has accepted country visit requests by the UN Special

Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers and the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances. Requests for visits from a number of other special procedures, however, remain pending, including: the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial executions (pending since 2000); the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders (pending since 2003); the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights while countering terrorism (pending since 2006); the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief (pending since 2006); and the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (pending since 2010), among others.

International Labour Organisation (ILO)

The ILO is the only tripartite U.N. agency, bringing together governments, employers, and workers of 187 of its member states, to set labour standards, develop policies, and devise programmes promoting decent work for all women and men.

programmes promoting decent work for all women and men. Pakistan has never fully applied the fundamental

Pakistan has never fully applied the fundamental ILO conventions

The Government of Pakistan has ratified 36 out of a total 189 ILO conventions, including eight fundamental conventions, out of which 31 are still in force. The eight core conventions cover: forced labour; the right to unionise; the right to collective bargaining; equal remuneration; abolition of forced labour; discrimination in employment/occupation; minimum age; and the worst forms of child labour.

Pakistan has never fully applied the fundamental conventions. Even where legislation exists, there is a huge gulf between enactment of laws and their implementation. The ILO Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations has repeatedly, through 2016-2018, expressed the hope that the government of Pakistan will comply with its obligation to submit Conventions, Recommendations and Protocols to the competent authority and to inform the ILO in this respect.

Pakistan ratified the C144 - Tripartite Consultation (International Labour Standards) Convention, 1976 in 1994, and the subject of labour was subsequently devolved to the regions under the 18th Amendment. The enactment of new labour legislation is slow in the provinces, with the exception of Sindh which has passed the most labour laws. At the end of 2017, the Sindh government held its first consultation and formulated 14 new labour laws, after which it initiated the process of framing new Rules. In 2018 it organised its second consultation with the technical and financial support of the ILO through its International Labour and Environmental Standards project, funded by the European Union, and its German-funded Labour Standards in Global Supply Chains project.

As a result, the Rules of Business were drafted for the following five labour laws: The Sindh Industrial Relations Act 2013, Sindh Bonded Labour (Abolition) Act 2015, Sindh Prohibition of Employment of Children Act 2017, Sindh Terms of Employment Act (Standing Order) 2015, and the Sindh Workers Compensation Act 2015. The other provinces have yet to follow suit in holding tripartite consultations.

Significant among the conventions that Pakistan has not ratified are those on pollution-free environment; safety and health in construction, in agriculture and in mines; home workers and domestic workers; prevention of major industrial accidents; and minimum wages.

The numerous and regular reports of industrial accidents in Pakistan, and particularly the all too frequent cases of fatal accidents in mines, point to the urgent need for regulations.

GSP Plus

The Generalised Scheme of Preference plus (GSP +) is an initiative of the European Union (EU) which allows vulnerable developing countries to pay fewer or no duties on exports to the EU, giving them vital access to the EU market and contributing to their growth. Pakistan applied for the GSP Plus status to be formally granted by the European Union and was given the status in March 2018. The European Parliament had previously granted the GSP Plus status to Pakistan through a vote of 406 parliamentarians out of a total of 780.

The grant of GSP Plus status is contingent upon the implementation of 27

core human, labour, environment rights, and governance conventions.

In January 2018, the European Union issued an assessment of Pakistan for the period 2016-17.

The EU noted some positive developments and efforts made by the government to promote and uphold human rights. Among them was The National Action Plan on Human Rights, which was the first of its kind in Pakistan, and was approved by the Prime Minister in the first half of 2016. The EU observed that the plan, while somewhat general, includes many important priorities and actions. However, the EU expressed concern at the lack of progress reporting of the Plan to the public and that consequently it remained unclear how many of the priorities and actions outlined in the Plan had been implemented.

The EU report noted the establishing of Treaty Implementation Cells (TICs) at the federal and provincial levels as a positive development. Other key initiatives that the EU highlighted included the National Commission on Human Rights (NCHR), which was constituted in 2015, and how it has in the past two years gradually played a more active role and issued a number of important reports and observations, including on controversial topics. However, according to the EU, the NCHR’s functional and budgetary autonomy, as required by the Paris Principles, has not yet fully materialised. The NCHR was not able to appear before some UN Treaty Body committees.

The federal and provincial Commissions on the Status of Women have also played an important role in promoting human rights in Pakistan. The National Commission for Child Welfare and Development has been established.

While noting the positive developments mentioned above the EU also highlighted that there were several areas where the human rights situation in Pakistan remained unchanged or where there were worrying developments. For instance, only limited action had been taken to address the longstanding issue of enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings.

Similarly, the Government had not taken effective measures to prevent the widespread use of torture. According to the EU, the application of the death penalty and executions remained a grave concern, while a review of the crimes carrying the death penalty would be a welcome first step in the right direction.

The EU expressed concern at the continued difficult situation of religious and ethnic minorities. According to the EU serious concerns remained about freedom of expression, freedom of association and assembly, the situation of human rights defenders and civil society activists, and the overall ‘shrinking civil society space’.

The EU termed the picture of Pakistan’s performance on human rights during the reporting period as mixed and that the lack of progress in certain areas can to some extent be explained by the many challenges faced by the Government, including the difficult security situation, and the lack of resources and capacity. However, it reiterated that Pakistan must step up its efforts and take more proactive, sustained and forceful action to implement legislation and to address problematic areas.

The EU emphasised that to do so it was imperative Pakistan follows up on the recommendations provided by the UN Human Rights Treaty Bodies, addressing identified shortcomings and strengthening the overall implementation of the relevant treaty obligations.





II Enforcement of Law

Enforcement of Law

Law and Order

No person who is arrested shall be detained in custody without being informed, as soon as may be, of the grounds for such arrest, nor shall be denied the right to consult and be defended by a legal practitioner of his choice. Every person who is arrested and detained in custody shall be produced before a magistrate within a period of twenty-four hours of such arrest. Constitution of Pakistan Article 10(1) and (2) The dignity of man and, subject to law, the privacy of home, shall be inviolable. No person shall be subjected to torture for the purpose of extracting evidence. Article 14(1) and (2)

Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person. Universal Declaration of Human Rights Article 3 No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Article 5 Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.

Article 11(1) No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour or reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

Article 12


As in previous years, there has been a steady decline in conflict-related deaths, although the 2018 General Election saw a rise in violent deaths for the period between June and July.

According to the Centre for Research and Security Studies (CRSS) Annual Security Report 2018, of the 2,333 casualties in 2018, 1,131 were fatalities, down 45% from 2047 the previous year. Balochistan had the highest number of fatalities at 407, followed by erstwhile FATA (208) and Sindh (192). The biggest decline was in the Punjab, where fatalities dropped by nearly 69% (469 to 146), followed by Sindh (57.8%) and the

former FATA (52.3%). Civilians accounted for 53 percent of the total casualties (598), with 243 security personnel and 289 militants.

Suicide attacks represented the main form of violence by militants and the primary source of casualties. The Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies (PICSS) said that 46% of the overall deaths, and 48%

of the total injuries, in militant violence in 2018 were caused by suicide

attacks—with the ratio of deaths per attack in 2018 increasing from 13

to 15. During the year 2017, the percentage of deaths in suicide attacks

was 33 percent.

Violence spiked sharply during the time of the general elections. The PICSS said that 40 percent of the total deaths took place in July. Several candidates were targeted during public gatherings, including a sitting minister. Five separate attacks took place in July alone. On 7 July, an attack on the convoy of Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) candidate Shiren Malik in Bannu resulted in injuries to him and six others.

A second fatal attack on 10 July in Peshawar claimed the life of Awami

National Party (ANP) leader Haroon Bilour, along with 21 others. Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazal (JUI-F) leader Akram Khan Durrani’s survived an

attack on his convoy on 13 July as it headed back from an election rally

in Bannu, but four others were killed. Hours after, a suicide attack on a

rally in Mastung targeted Balochistan Awami Party (BNP) provincial assembly candidate Nawabzada Siraj Raisani. At least 131 people lost their lives along with Raisani.

Ikramullah Gandapur from the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) was also

killed in Dera Ismail Khan. Thirty-one people were killed on polling day

in Quetta in an attack outside a polling station.

Violence perpetrated by the police

The year was marked by increased conversation in the mainstream media and political movements as well as civil society regarding extrajudicial killings, fake encounters, and brutality at the hands of law enforcement agencies. The extrajudicial murder of Naqeebullah Mehsud, along with three others, at the start of the year culminated in nationwide protests by the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) and resulted in an inquiry committee that found police personnel culpable in the killing, although the main suspect, Rao Anwar, was still out on bail at the end of 2018.

A young man, Maqsood, also died in Karachi in January, allegedly

caught in the crossfire between police and a gang of criminals. CCTV footage later revealed it was another fake encounter and he had been targeted by police.

‘Encounter’ has become a euphemism for extrajudicial killings, where the deaths of citizens during clashes with the police and other security

forces are viewed with suspicion. These were frequently reported across the country throughout the year, and rarely investigated. The lack of transparent and credible police reports has only fuelled the perception that law enforcement agencies can act with impunity. Only occasionally is there any evidence that they are held to account.

is there any evidence that they are held to account. Police encounters were frequently reported across

Police encounters were frequently reported across the country throughout the year

In May, 11 policemen were booked six years after ‘killing’ a man in a staged encounter in the district of Kasur, and then only because his mother determinedly pursued the case. In another incident, a departmental inquiry conducted in Larkana found that the claim by the Bakrani police of having killed a ‘notorious dacoit’ in an encounter on 21 May was false. The SHO concerned was booked, along with five others.

In 2017, Emaan Fatima was raped and killed in Kasur and the police picked up a man and killed him the same day. When Imran Ali was convicted in Zainab’s murder case in 2018, DNA evidence revealed that he had also committed the 2017 attack. The media highlighted the fact that the police had shot dead an innocent man months before. A JIT was constituted and found the police guilty.

In October, a murder case was lodged against a police team that had killed a young man in an alleged encounter in Karachi around three months earlier.

The innocent are often caught up in the indiscriminate crossfire between police and criminals. The tragic death of ten-year-old Amal, shot during yet another police encounter in Karachi in August, shocked the country.

According to the CRSS statistics for fatalities from security operations,

162 were attributed to encounters or suspected encounters with law enforcement agencies. In the 2018 list of the Baloch Human Rights Organisation (BHRO), of the 264 cases listed under extrajudicial killings, 23 were attributed to encounters, and 24 to custodial deaths. The BHRO also recorded 832 missing in their list of enforced disappearances in the province.

There were many reports of enforced disappearances at the hands of security forces, with human rights defenders and activists bearing the brunt – see Enforced Disappearances.

Police crime/dereliction of duty

Amidst growing concern around police accountability, the Sindh government set up the Internal Police Accountability Branch (IAB) in August, answerable to the Inspector General of Police and tasked with ‘conducting inquiries against policemen over allegations of corruption, misuse of powers and other complaints in a transparent manner’.

Accountability measures taken by the Punjab police are under the Punjab Police Efficiency and Discipline Rules 1975 and the Punjab Civil Servants (E&D) Rules 1999, depending on the rank. The Punjab police has not released figures for 2018. In 2017, however, 270 punishments were awarded to ASP/DSPs, 64,458 were meted out to constables, 1,792 to inspectors, 10,077 to sub-inspectors, 12,151 to assistant sub-inspectors and 3,773 to head constables. In total, 2,434 members of the police force were dismissed in 2017—out of the dismissals, one was on grounds of torture, two were due to illegal confinement, and 167 cases involved corruption. Overall, 15 cases of torture resulted in punitive action. Disciplinary action was more common at the level of lower ranks as opposed to higher ranked officers.

In May, in response to a complaint filed by Justice Project Pakistan (JPP), the National Commission on Human Rights initiated a formal inquiry into nearly 1,500 cases of torture uncovered in Faisalabad alone. The JPP had produced a report in collaboration with Yale Law School, Policing as Torture: A Report on Systematic Brutality and Torture by the Police in Faisalabad, which revealed conclusive signs of abuse in 1,424 cases for the period 2006-2012.

According to the data, 58 of the victims were children and over 134 were women. The report stated that 143 victims were suspended, 464 were forced to witness others being tortured, 15 were subjected to sleep deprivation, 11 were exposed to extreme heat or cold, and 114 were sexually abused. The report also found that 61 percent of women were sexually abused, and 81 percent were subjected to culturally inappropriate practices.

Thirteen policemen, including three SHOs, were subsequently

summoned by the NCHR in August for torturing citizens. Despite this action, a fruit vendor in Faisalabad was picked up in September, blindfolded, brutally tortured at an undisclosed location, and allegedly forced to accept that he had committed a robbery, proving that the practice of torture was still very much a part of police investigation.

In June, on the occasion of the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, the NCHR said they had received 100 complaints in the past year, adding that the commission had also picked up 58 cases suo motu, of which 34 were related to female victims. According to the commission, Pakistan lacked data, adequate monitoring and redressal mechanisms, as well as comprehensive national legislation against torture. It was reported that human rights officers had been appointed to prohibit and prevent torture in police stations, and that nearly 25 officers of the Islamabad police had been dismissed for their involvement in inflicting torture.

During the year, numerous reports emerged of police blackmail and extortion, torture and harassment during raids, custodial deaths, refusal to register FIRs, and corruption.

Several cases of police corruption emerged from Sindh in 2018, as the Sindh government made inroads into exercising more power over the policing branch. An accountability court in August sentenced a senior superintendent of police to 10 years’ imprisonment in a reference pertaining to embezzlement of Rs50 million. In September, the Sindh government requested an inquiry against 18 top police officers over allegations of corruption and illegal appointments.

The government proposed the Sindh Police Act 2018, which dilutes the powers of the Inspector General and expands those of the Sindh Government ‘to manage, direct, review, and oversee the administration and financial affairs of the Sindh police.’ This Bill had not been passed by the end of the year and both police authorities and civil society expressed concerns about the implications for the independence of the Sindh police.

At the expiration of the five-year term of the PTI government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, it was found that they had failed to establish an independent Public Safety Commission and the Regional Complaint Authority in most districts of the province in order to ensure police accountability. On the other hand, it was reported that, since the passage of the KP Police Act 2017, in-house accountability had resulted in the dismissal of almost 800 policemen and punishments for over 6,000 staffers.

The home department in the Punjab sent a summary to the Chief Minister in September, seeking his permission to place before the cabinet a request

to approve the constitution of the Commission for Police Reforms and

Implementation. In October, the police reforms chief, Nasir Durrani, resigned which was considered a setback to the implementation of

police reforms in the province.


Reported crime in the Punjab during the period of January till December

2018 was slightly on the rise as compared to 2017, jumping from 405,895

to 409,030. Out of these, 50,483 were crimes against persons, while the

rest were classified as crimes against property (87,770), crimes against

local and special laws (136,884) and miscellaneous (133,893). According


statistics provided by the Punjab Police, 25,511 out of the total number


registered cases were rendered untraceable (6.2%), 39,993 were under

investigation (9.7%) and 317,292 cases were challaned (77.5%).

A large proportion of the crimes reported against persons in the Punjab

involved cases of physical harm, in the form of murder (4,146), attempted murder (4,980) and hurt (15,191); a significant portion of these were rape (3,300) and attempted rape (196).

The annual report submitted by the Sindh police listed 14,115 crimes against property and 13,271 crimes against persons in 2018, while four incidents of terrorism occurred as well as nine target killings, 1,298 murders, three bank robberies, and 38 kidnappings for ransom. Street crime remained a challenge for the Sindh government in terms of law and order; there was a rise in mobile phone snatchings, increasing from 14,321 in 2017 to 15,038 in 2018 (5% increase).

The official website of the government of Balochistan states that reported crime in 2018 had dropped as compared to the previous year—8,763 in

2018 and 9,479 in 2017. Target killings, on the other hand, were reported

to be on the rise from 29 in 2017 to 34 in 2018.

Unlike their counterparts in Sindh and the Punjab, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Police department website did not provide up-to-date statistics on reported crime.

Islamabad Capital Territory saw an unprecedented and exponential rise in crime—in many cases crimes had doubled in 2018. Despite the implementation of the Safe Cities Project in the city, motorcycle theft cases rose from 177 in 2017 to 426 in 2018. Furthermore, 2,207 cases related to robbery and car lifting were reported—225 stolen cars were reported in 2018 as opposed to 138 in 2017. Additionally, the number of violent crimes also increased—there were 106 murders and 147 attempted murders, as compared to 85 murders and 142 attempted murder cases in 2017.

HRCP maintains its own database, relying on media reports and

information from regional representatives and individuals. The statistics consequently do not reflect the true scale of crime or human rights violations—actual figures are likely to be much higher, particularly given that many crimes go unreported and motives are often not completely apparent.


January to December 2018